World population is predicted to increase to 9.3 billion by 2050. Will cotton supply be able to meet the future growing demand or will cotton become a premier niche fiber? Can yield increase to meet demand? What are the resource implications? Is there currently enough research addressing these concerns? From a resource management/research perspective is it possible to increase yield enough, maintain or improve quality, reduce inputs (including available land that may be required for food crops), etc. to meet the future demand? Cotton price volatility is a problem that can affect this. What price does cotton have sell for to support higher inputs, increased technology and mechanization, etc.? These are big questions, which one could write a thesis to answer.
The picture presented by various people/organizations is quite mixed concerning if cotton yields will be able to keep up with higher demand from population and economic growth. Some think we are in a long period of no growth in yields. Some feel with continued advancing technology, including genetics and biotechnology producing better, higher yielding ‘more sustainable’ varieties specific to growing regions, we will be able to clothe and feed 9.3 billion people. West Texas in the USA is a good example. They had some of the lowest yields in the USA and recently have demonstrated they can be among the highest, provided enough water and inputs. Africa, for example, has about half the yields as the rest of the world (ROW) --lots of potential if there were political and other resource constraints removed. India has had significant yield increases because of biotech. The greater concern may not be technology limitations but social, political, ideological, religious and other things that get in the way of doing the right thing.
Yields increase whenever new technology is developed. To have higher yields takes better varieties, water, and other inputs (particular N and other nutrients; and control pests). For ‘more sustainable’ cotton, water, energy and chemical use need to be reduced/limited. Water, energy, chemicals, and other inputs cost money and improvements in their use requires technology. Much research is being done to increase yield and other technology needs. What will prove to be successful is not known. There is much potential but is there enough?
What are your opinions related to whether from a resource management/research perspective is it possible for cotton to meet the future demand? What are the biggest needs?