Cotton stocks in India could fall by nearly 16% in 2022/23 from a year earlier to their lowest level in nearly two decades as adverse weather curtailed crop yields, a leading trade body said on Thursday.

Lower stockpiles will limit exports from the world's biggest producer in the next marketing year starting from Oct. 1 and support global prices. It could also lift domestic prices and weigh on the margin of local textile companies.

Cotton stocks at the end of 2022/23 marketing year could fall to 2.69 million bales, the lowest since 2003/04, the Cotton Association of India (CAI) said.

India is likely to produce 31.3 million bales of cotton in the current season ending on Sept. 30, down 2.6% from an earlier estimate, the CAI said.

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.

India cotton exports in the season could fall to 3 million bales from 4.3 million bales a year ago, the CAI said.

(1 bale= 170 kg) (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)