Table of Contents

1. Overview

Cotton remains one of the most versatile crops grown by humanity, noted for its appearance, comfort and the many useful products it provides.

  • From the seed: flour and feed, refined oil (salad and cooking), margarine, soap and cosmetics, writing materials, rayon industrial fabrics, yarns, plastics, lamp and candle wicks, twine, rugs, mops, furniture upholstery etc.
  • From the lint: clothes, underwear, linings for canvas, tents, medical bandages, sheets, towels, curtains etc.

 

2. International business environment

Find international updates at www.cottonsa.org.za and on the cotton pages of the International Trade Center website, www.intracen.org/itc/sectors/cotton. A further useful resource is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Cotton: World Markets and Trade circular.

 

3. Local business environment

Visit www.cottonsa.org.za for the latest cotton market reports.

Historical cotton production areas include Limpopo Province (Springbok flats from Bela-Bela to Mokopane and Weipe), North West Province (Taung, Stella, Delareyville, Maratsane), KwaZulu-Natal (Makhathini Flats), Mpumalanga and Northern Cape (lower Orange River, Vaalharts, Douglas, Marydale and Prieska). Hectares planted and yields for the Republic of South Africa (Swaziland excluded) are on the graph that follows:

Marketing Year Hectares Irrigation    Hectares Dryland    Total Hectares    Yield Irrigation    Yield Dryland    Average Yield
2007/08    5 979  3 242    9 221  4 067   825 2 927
2008/09    4 849 1 965 6 814 4 327 757 3 299
2009/10    4 151    960 5 111  4 865 712  4 085
2010/11    11 640  1 505   13 145 3 931 715  3 563
2011/12    7 231 2 166  9 397 4 405 541  3 514
2012/13    2 956 3 871  6 827   3 979    687   2 112
2013/14    4 566   2 892 7 458 4 785 687 3 196
2014/15    8 592 6 636 15 228 4 946 1 129 3 283
2015/16 5 843 2 510 8 353 4 563 635 3 383
2016/17 7 301 10 540 17 841 4 411 1 048 2 424
2017/18 19 570 17 646 37 216 4 451 853 2 745
2017/18 figures are an estimate. Yield figures are Kg seed cotton per hectare

Source: Cotton SA

Cotton in South Africa is currently marketed on free-market principles, i.e. there is no intervention or restriction on the buying and selling of cotton and prices are determined by the market.

Farmers market their cotton in one of the following ways:

  • The seed cotton is sold by the grower to a ginner who gins the cotton and sells the cotton lint for his own account to spinners (and seed to processors), either directly or by making use of agents; or
  • The grower does not sell his seed cotton to the ginner but contracts the ginner to gin it on his behalf on payment of a ginning fee (some growers also own their own gins). The cotton lint and seed remain the property of the producer who then either markets it himself or contracts the gin or someone else to market the cotton lint (or seed) on his behalf.
  • The grower can gin their cotton in their own gins. They can then either market the cotton lint and seed themselves or get someone else to do it for them.