Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah said that the recent floods, water shortage and low market price were the major reasons behind the low production of cotton, adding that Pakistan was likely to miss its production target for year 2013-14.
According to a senior official, the government had set the cotton production target at 14.1 million bales for year 2013-14, whereas the Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC), in its meeting on December 11, estimated the total cotton production at 12.3 million bales.
“Cotton was grown on a smaller area by farmers due to low market price,” official added.
The fourth meeting of CCAC was held at the Textile Industry Division (TID), under the chairmanship of federal secretary Rukhsana Shah. The objective was to re-assess the third assessment of the cotton crop.
Abdullah presented an overview of cotton production in the country. He discussed the various challenges faced by the cotton crop; especially low availability of irrigation water at the time of sowing, problems of low germination of seed, flood damage and attack of cotton pests.
Dr Abdullah disclosed that the Punjab Seed Council during its meeting on November 10 had approved 15 varieties for general cultivation in the 2014-15 crop seasons. He said that Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) had conducted experiments on long and extra long staple cotton varieties in Sindh and Balochistan which helped in producing promising results.
According to a statement, representatives of the Government of Punjab Department of Crop Reporting Services informed that rain and floods damaged 118,000 acres of cotton crop. Decrease in sowing was mainly attributed to the lower prices of seed cotton in the last three years and farmers preferred maize, sugarcane and rice crops over cotton due to monetary advantages.
Representatives of Sindh government stated that 14,19,656 acres was sown against 16,06,215 acres during last year depicting 13% decrease in sowing.
It was informed that cotton production in Punjab had been estimated at 8.866 million bales, 3.362 million in Sindh, 0.108 Baluchistan and 0.000433 million bales in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Meanwhile, Rukhsana emphasised the need for strengthening cotton grading and standardisation system. She stressed upon the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) for volunteering the grading fee at Rs5 per bale.
She urged the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) to adopt a proactive role to ensure premium price for production of quality cotton.
“There is a dire need to ensure production of quality cotton with proper grading and standardisation so that Pakistan could earn higher prices in international markets,” added Rukhsana.
Likewise, PCGA Chairman Mukhtar Khan stated that non availability of quality seed, non-introduction of seed technology and competitive price advantage of rice, sugarcane and corn over cotton, were the main factors behind diminishing cotton production.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2013.