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ICAC SEEP panel releases three reports

Apr '12
International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) Expert Panel on Social, Environmental and Economic Performance of Cotton Production (SEEP) released three reports dealing with pesticide use in cotton production, production efficiency and energy use in cotton production, and the components of labor costs in major producing countries.

Worldwide, the annual sales of crop protection chemicals on cotton rose from $2.6 billion in 1999 to $3 billion in 2009, but because of inflation and the use of more expensive chemicals, applications of active ingredients per hectare have fallen.

The use of pesticides on cotton peaked in the 1990s when cotton accounted for about 20% of all insecticides used in agriculture. (Insecticides are a subset of pesticides, which include herbicides, fungicides and others.) Because of the implementation of Integrated Pest Management programs and the use of biotechnology, cotton's share of world insecticide sales had fallen to 14% by 2009.

Agriculture accounts for about three-fourths of human water consumption, and cotton production accounts for about 3% of the volume of water used for global crop production, proportional to cotton's share of world arable land use.

The amount of energy required in cotton production varies primarily because of differences in yields and the use of irrigation. Energy efficiency in cotton production ranges from a high of 0.071 kilograms of fiber per megajoule to 0.016 kilograms per megajoule in countries studied.

However, when the energy contained in cottonseed is considered, many cotton production systems are energy neutral to energy positive. An estimated 110 million households produce cotton in more than 80 countries.

When family labor, hired labor and employment in ancillary industries such as transportation, ginning and warehousing are included, total employment in the cotton industry reaches more than 200 million each season. Cotton industry employment in the eleven countries represented in the latest SEEP report on labor cost components totals about 45 million, with India alone accounting for 35 million.

The Survey of Cotton Labor Cost Components in Major Producing Countries provides an overview of the types of expenses incurred by employers in the cotton production sectors of major countries.

In some countries, such as Australia, Brazil and the United States, employers are required to provide substantial benefits to employees ranging from health insurance to education for children. In other countries, farmers pay hired laborers only on a piece-rate basis.

International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)

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