MULTAN: The government should frame a five-year cotton policy without any further delay to enhance cotton production to 22 million bales and exports to three million bales in the proposed cotton policy by giving incentives of crop insurance and quality premium to farmers.
At present, average cotton production stands at 13 million bales and exports at one million bales per year.
These views were expressed by Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Chairman Dr Jeso Mal T Leemani while addressing a press conference on Sunday. Haji Muhammad Akram, Shehzad Ali Khan, Suhail Mehmood Haral, Mian Javed Tariq and Ashiq Ali Babar Rehmani were also present.
Curious case of Pakistan's falling cotton production
He said that cotton policy should be finalised with the consent of all stakeholders. He added ginners would not let anyone to make a policy at the cost of farmers' interests.
Jeso Mal said that the government and private enterprises failed to supply qualitative, well germinated, heat resistant and virus resistant seed to the farmers.
“To enhance production, the area sown with cotton crop must be increased to 4.2 million hectares from the current around 3.2 million hectares,” he said.
The country will have to strive to achieve a better yarn recovery rate of 90% compared to the existing 85%. “Though Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton after China, United States and India, yet it ranks second in terms of contamination in cotton,” he maintained.
“Pakistan’s cotton fetches a low price because of contamination and this issue must be addressed in new cotton policy. The farmers producing clean cotton should be offered a premium as an encouragement,” he pointed out.
Drought-tolerant cotton crop best for high yield
The PCGA chief suggested that a cotton investment fund should also be raised for such schemes and programmes. He said the government should be pressed to set aside funds for research and development, capacity-building and infrastructure development.
He said in an attempt to minimise the role of middlemen and ensure direct contact between farmers and buyers, the government, in the first phase, should set up a model cotton trading house, which should work as a hub for sale of cotton.
He said the federal government should take all provinces and other stakeholders on board while seminars should also be organised on the proposed policy to create awareness and seek suggestions.
Jeso Mal said, “The key crop failure should be taken seriously also because it did not occur in any of the cotton-growing countries except Pakistan. The cotton crop failure has far-reaching impact in the country where 60% population lives in rural areas.”
He added a short crop resulted in job losses to rural workforce, particularly women cotton pickers. “Pakistan’s cotton production stood at 15 million bales in the 2013-14, which dropped to around 12 to 13 million bales during the last two seasons. It translated into a shortfall of 10 million bales in the last two years which, according to experts, cost the country around Rs500 billion.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2017.
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