Cotton seed is one of the popular and traditional oilseed that is being used to extract vegetable oil. It carries around 18% of the oil content and the oil derived from it, cottonseed oil, contributes approximately one-fifth of the international vegetable oil production. The remaining percentage of the cottonseed is the cottonseed meal. This oilseed is a by-product of the cotton plant and is acquired via the ginning process.
It is estimated that the international output of cottonseed is approximately 35 million tons, in the recent years. Out of this figure, around 27 million is used for the production of oil. The international trade in the cotton oil is roughly 1 million tons. The major producers, exporters, and importers of the cottonseed are as follows:
- Major Producers: India, China, U.S., Pakistan and Brazil
- Major Exporters: Australia, U.S. and Mexico
- Major Importers:Europe and Japan
Processing of cottonseed into vegetable oil is done by various manual, semi-automatic, and automatic processes. For this purpose, a wide range of oil mill machinery are used. Some of these machines are Oil Presses, Seed-Preheating Unit, Screw Presses, and many others. In India, various states in which the oil mills are located are Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Roughly 95% of the total output comes from these 9 states. Together, all these states produce around 35% of cottonseed as compared to the cotton output of more than 4.5 million tons. Around 80% of the cottonseed production is crushed for production of oil and the remaining is used for feed.
The cotton and cottonseed output in India completely depends on various factors such as impulse weather conditions and pest attacks. This results in varying cottonseed production every year. Conventionally, the cottonseed is sold via active cash market and through weekly auctions. Their prices generally reduce during the months of October-January, which are considered as the peak seasons when the fresh supply arrives in the market.
The Maharashtra State Cooperative Cotton Growers Marketing Federation procures the cottonseed and auctions it at major trading centers which includes Nagpur, Yeotmal, Akola, and Parbhani. In Maharashtra, the cottonseed is sold via weekly auctions whereas in the other states its is sold via active cash in the peak season.