MUMBAI- India is likely to produce 34.81 million bales of cotton in the 2021/22 season that started on Oct. 1, down 3.3% from an earlier estimate, a leading trade body said on Tuesday, as heavy rainfall during harvesting damaged the crop.

The drop in output is likely to lead to lower cotton shipments from India, allowing rivals such as the United States, Brazil and Australia to increase cargoes to key Asian buyers such as China and Pakistan. It may also support global prices CTc1 that are trading near their highest level in a decade.

The world's biggest cotton producer had harvested 35.3 million bales in the previous season, Cotton Association of India (CAI), said.

The trade body raised its cotton consumption estimate by 3% to 34.5 million bales for the current marketing year as demand was robust during November and December.

Higher demand and lower output could bring down stockpiles at the end of the current season to 4.5 million bales from 7.5 million bales a year ago, Atul Ganatra, president of the CAI, said.

Imports could jump 50% from a year ago to 1.5 million bales, he said.

(1 Indian bale = 170 kg)

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Kirsten Donovan) ((; +91-22-68414378 ; Reuters Messaging: