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THE COTTON INDUSTRY IN AUSTRALIA 1 Introduction Cotton is one of the oldest fibres used by human beings Archaeologists have found cotton 5000 years old Alexander the Great around 300 BC brought cotton goods into Europe but only the rich could afford it The cotton plant grew wild in East Africa Cotton belongs to the Hibiscus family Our commercial varieties of cotton were developed from perennial shrubs in Central America Source A 2 History of the cotton industry Governor Phillip brought cottonseeds to Australia on the First Fleet in 1788 However substantial production really only occurred in the 1860s with the American Civil war creating a shortage for the English spinners Large areas of dryland cotton were planted in Queensland to meet the demand A similar burst in production occurred in the 1930s when the American cotton crop had boll weevil problems By 1934 Australias production had risen to 17000 bales but 20 years later our cotton industry was almost non existent Interest in cotton revived in the 1960s when the construction of major dams in northern NSW and southern Queensland enabled irrigated cotton production Another boost to the industry was the arrival in Wee Waa of two American cotton growers who showed how to grow the crop Irrigated and dryland planting have continued to expand since then In 1998 production peaked at 3 million bales Source B 3 Value of cotton industry to domesticexport to Australia Australia is the fourth largest cotton growing country in the world Cotton is Australias fifth biggest rural export worth more than 800 million Source A The value of Australias raw cotton is now more than 15 billion while the meal and oil produced from cotton seed contribute a further 100 million to the Australian economy Last year Cotton Australia claimed a record in cotton production with production of 681 tonnes of raw cotton outstripping wool production for the first time in Australian history Australia produced
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