Cotton. Relevant references point to two distinct geographical origins of cultivated cotton, namely, Asia and pre-Columbian America. The first cotton fabric would date back to approximately as early as 3,200 BC, as revealed by fragments of cloth found at the Mohenjo-Daro archaeological site on the banks of the River Indus. From India, cotton textiles probably passed to Mesopotamia, where the trade started around 600 years BC. The Arab conquests introduced the first cotton manufacturing facilities into Spain (Granada), Venice, and Milan. In England, the first cotton-spinning factory opened its doors in Manchester in 1641. This date marked the beginning of the cotton industry in Europe. The industrial revolution of eighteenth century Europe paved the way for the most far-reaching, influential transformation of cotton textile manufacturing.
Besides being a major natural fibre crop, cotton also provides edible oil and seed by-products for livestock food. Cottonseed oil is a vegetable oil ranking fifth in world use among edible oils. The cottonseed meal is usually used as roughage in the diet of cattle for its high protein and energetic value. Cotton is bought and sold by investors and price speculators as a tradable commodity on two different stock exchanges in the United States of America. Cotton futures contracts are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) under the ticker symbol TT. They are delivered every year in March, May, July, October, and December. Cotton #2 futures contracts are traded on the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT) under the ticker symbol CT. They are delivered every year in March, May, July, October, and December.
On the international level, despite increasing local processing (especially in developing countries), cotton is still the main traded agricultural raw materials with more than 30% of cotton production (approximately 6.3 million tonnes of fibre) traded per annum since the beginning of the 1980s. United States is by large the dominant exporter with regard to cotton fibre.
Cotton is grown in 90 countries. The four main producing countries are China, India, the USA and Pakistan and account for approximately three quarters of world output. If we add Uzbekistan and Brasil, six countries would account for 83% of world cotton production. Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Uzbekistan has been the second major cotton exporter after America.
Despite increasing local processing (especially in developing countries), cotton is still the main traded agricultural raw materials with more than 30% of cotton production (approximately 6.3 million tonnes of fibre) traded per annum since the beginning of the 1980s.