Volatility due to geopolitical developments and the intensity of the effects of climate change worldwide, prices that do not satisfy anyone throughout the chain as a result of the prevailing conditions and the rise of Southern Hemisphere countries in terms of their power in the international cotton market chessboard , are the main ingredients that make up the image of the industry today.
The aforementioned was highlighted during the sixth annual “Mediterranean Cotton Routes” event, organized today in Thessaloniki, with the participation of 300 delegates, while in 2024 it will take place in Izmir, as announced tonight. It is recalled that the event has taken place in Izmir and Barcelona and is an initiative of the Panhellenic Association of Cotton Ginners and Exporters (PEEEB) which started in 2014. This year’s event is co-organized by the Izmir Commodity Exchange of Turkey and the Centro Algodonero Nacional of Spain.
“The prospects are particularly favorable, as the market is in need of environmental products and the restriction of plastic fiber “generates” a new field for Greek cotton”, noted the Minister of Rural Development and Food, Lefteris Avgenakis, in his greeting that was read at the event, as he himself is away abroad.
Underlining that the aim of the ministry is for cotton to receive the surplus value it deserves, Mr. Avgenakis noted that the upward trend of cotton cultivation in Greece in recent years stabilized at 3 million acresand is thus the most important industrial crop of the country.
He also underlined that Greece is the main cotton-growing country among EU states, as it has 80% of European land, followed by Spain and Bulgaria. Cotton farming employs 45,000 families, while jobs are offered to more than 100,000 people, according to him.
In relation tothe bad weather Daniel that hit the Thessalian plain, as a result of which cotton farmers lost their harvest 20 days before the harvest, Mr. Avgenakis emphasized that the state has fully compensated those affected and is making every possible effort to restore, in order to make the Thessalian land arable again.
“The Greek cotton, o white gold of Greeceis a national and emblematic product and through the cooperation of all of us, we can make it more competitive on the international chessboard, attract new producers and develop the cultivation even more”, the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Food pointed out from the stage of the event , Dionysis Stamenitis.
He emphasized that for the HYPAAT the investment in the quality elements of the cultivation is consistently one of the central objectives, while he underlined the importance that the Greek government attaches to the support of the operation of the Vamvakos Interprofessional Organization, in the context of promoting cooperative schemes. “We believe that through cooperative schemes, both cotton and in general all Greek products can be promoted with even greater success worldwide,” he said characteristically.
He underlined the “unprecedented”, as he described, resilience demonstrated by Greek cotton in the unstable and uncertain environment created by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine and praised the professionalism of the Greeks employed throughout the product chain.
Recognizing the problems that concern the sector, such as irrigation issues and the high cost of production, Mr. Stamenitis referred to the new CAP 2023-2027 and, among other things, said that cotton will receive a 5-year special linked aid amounting to 219 million euros. In addition, as he said, in the context of the new CAP, the possibility of including plots of land cultivated with cotton is given in new ecological forms in order for the producers to apply organic practices, while he noted that the allocation of funds for infrastructure and modernization is also foreseen.
In the problems it creates climate change in the cotton sector, the head of Turkey’s Izmir Commodity Exchange, Baris Kocagoz, said in his speech, noting that “this year is probably the most difficult year the sector has ever experienced”. Underscoring the need for farmers to adapt to the new conditions created by climate change, he emphasized that all those involved in the cotton chain must make every effort to ensure that the quality of the product is not affected.
This year’s cotton production is down by up to 40%
Reduced at a rate of 35% to 40% the Greek production of ginned cotton is finally expected this year, since while the year started with an expected drop of 10% due to the abandonment of the crop, the bad weather Daniel resulted in an increase in the loss for the sector in our country. This was noted by the president of the Panhellenic Union of Ginners and Exporters of Cotton (PEEEB), Antonis Siarkos, speaking to APE-MPE, saying that this year’s cotton production is expected at 200,000 tons, compared to 320,000 tons last year.
In any case, however, as he noted, the Greek professionals in the sector will be consistent with the contracts with their clients, since as he characteristically clarified “the agreements we make are always proportional to the quantities we have produced and have available”, while he added that 2023 started mwith a stock of 20,000 tons.
Of course, referring to the damage suffered by cotton farmers due to the effects of the climate crisis, Mr. Siarkos underlined the need for brave support from the state “to ensure their survival and stay in cultivation”, he emphasized. With production costs in cotton growing at 120-180 euros per hectare, “one can understand the damage suffered by cotton farmers 20 days before the harvest,” he stressed.
In his brief address at the event, Mr. Siarkos praised the quality of Greek cotton, saying it is among the eight most exportable origins worldwide. “We play a very important role in world trade”, he noted and referring to the prevailing prices, he emphasized that “they are not at their best. There is a period of high interest rates that is putting a lot of pressure.”
Regarding the Mediterranean Cotton Roads, Mr. Siarkos noted that in addition to presenting all the latest developments regarding the product, the main purpose of the event is to create the conditionss for commercial agreements and new jobsbut also networking.
Its position that the cotton industry worldwide is in precarious balance, expressed for his part the head of the Cotton sector at VITERRA, Colin Iles, characteristically noting that “the dissatisfaction of the people in the sector is obvious and multi-layered”.
In his statement, he said that the prices as they are being formed at the present stage do not satisfy neither the traders, nor the industrialists, nor the cotton producers, the consumption is at levels lower than 2021, while the sector is significantly exposed to climate change.
He emphasized that people in the industry are not as proactive as they should be and in this context he noted that the Southern Hemisphere now holds 50% of the world’s cotton trade, with the percentages of Australia and Brazil rising to 17% from 8% nine years ago and with their market shares in global becoming 40%, from 16%. “For the first time in the history of cotton, Brazil competes this year in exports with the leading power of the USA”, he pointed out.
The event was attended by the consul general of Turkey in Thessaloniki, Efe Ceylan, and members of parliament from the Greek parties, while all the representatives of the cotton chain participated – among others – producers, ginners, textile workers, traders of ginned cotton and transporters.
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