Local cotton production is likely to increase this year thanks to rising acreage and expansion of cultivation of hybrid varieties, stakeholders said.
During the current season, farmers have sown cotton on nearly 44,450 hectares of land, said Md Akhteruzzaman, additional director of the Cotton Development Board (CDB).
Overall production is likely to be around 200,000 bales (one bale equals roughly 480 pounds) in fiscal 2020-21, he said.
"We did not see rainfall in the November-December period. This has brightened prospects of a good crop," he said.
Farmers produced 4 per cent higher crop year-on-year to 177,890 bales in fiscal 2019-20 from that a year ago, showed data of the CDB.
Raw cotton production has been increasing over the past decade owing to a recovery in acreage and introduction of hybrid seeds.
The area under cotton cultivation amounted to 31,500 hectares in fiscal 2009-10, when production was less than 100,000 bales.
Akhteruzzaman said hybrid cotton accounts for 80 per cent of the area now under cultivation as hybrid seeds offer higher yields and income to them.
The origins of most of the seeds are China, he said, adding that per hectare yield was nearly 3.5 tonnes.
In its latest report on the Cotton and Products Update on Bangladesh, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasted an increase in cotton production this year.
It said cotton was cultivated in 20-22 districts of Bangladesh, covering only 0.55 per cent of the total cultivable land of 81 lakh hectares.
"Domestically produced cotton accounts for approximately four per cent of total consumption," said the USDA in its report released at the end of last week.
Bandarban, Jhenaidah, Jashore and Rangamati are the major cotton producing areas. Cotton is mainly sown in the July-August period and harvested in between December and January, it added.
Titas Uddin, a farmer at Bagatipara upazila of the northern Natore district, said yields would be higher this year. However, overall cultivation in his locality had dropped as only four out of seven farmers have sown the seeds of cotton.
"We faced difficulty to sell our produce during the lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus. This discouraged cultivation this season," he said.
Akhteruzzaman of the CDB said prices of cotton increased Tk 2,500 per maund this year from Tk 2,300 in the previous year.
"Cotton from domestic harvests are mainly used to make T-shirts for export markets," he said.
Mohammad Masum, chairman of the Supreme Seed Company, which markets hybrid cotton seeds among farmers, said rainfall during the sowing July-August period affects cultivation.
He said the CDB should take steps to train farmers so that seedlings were produced under sheds in order to be transplanted later.
"We have prospects but climate is the main barrier," he said, adding that cotton was a dry climate crop and its cultivation could be expanded to 200,000-250,000 hectares without affecting food crop and vegetable cultivation.