Cotton production is estimated to drop to 338 lakh bales in the 2015-16 season from 386 lakh bales in the previous year as farmers are shifting to other crops like pulses due to higher incentives, a senior official said. Cotton output during 2014-15 stood at 386 lakh bales of 170 kg each, Textile Commissioner Kavita Gupta told reporters here. “Cotton production is estimated to be 338 lakh bales in the 2015-16 season (which began on October 1),” she added. The third meeting of Cotton Advisory Board for 2015-16 was held today where state-wise area, production, import, export and consumption of cotton were discussed. “The area under cotton has decreased to 119.10 lakh hectares during 2015-16, compared to 128.46 in the previous year. “This is mainly as farmers are shifting to other crops, like pulses, where they are getting better incentives, especially in the central and the southern zone,” Gupta added. She said as the international cotton prices are weak compared to the domestic rates, imports are expected to go up to 15 lakh bales during the year compared to 14.39 lakh bales in the previous year. “The international cotton prices may weaken further due to more stocks coming in the market from October,” she added. Gupta said exports are likely to grow as China, which is low on stocks, will improve its inventory. “China has recently said that its inventory is down, so their import will go up. They have said they will buy from India,” she added. The total exports is expected to go up to 68 lakh bales in 2015-16, from 57.72 lakh bales in 2014-15, she said.