KARACHI: Pakistan has missed cotton sowing targets, largely in Sindh, due to acute water shortage amid climate change.
The situation may lead to low cotton production compared to the target of 14 million bales in the next season (2018-19) as well.
Farmers have so far sown cotton seeds over 2.31 million hectares in the country that is around 22% short of the target of 2.95 million hectares as on June 1, according to government statistics.
“Water shortage did not let farmers plant cotton over the targeted area,” Planning Commission Food Security Consultant Dr Mohammad Ali Talpur told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
“Farmers need water at the time of sowing,” said Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) former chairman Mukhtar Ahmad Khan.
“It did not rain in March and April, which usually happens almost every year. Resultantly, water flow remained absent from canals and did not let farmers sow seeds over the targeted area.”
According to the statistics, farmers in Sindh have cultivated cotton seeds over around 50% (0.29 million hectares) of the targeted area of 0.62 million hectares. The sowing season in the province has yet to end.
“Sindh completes cotton sowing by the end of June. It is estimated to cover 80-85% of the target,” Talpur said.
The sowing season in Punjab had, however, been completed in mid-May, he said. The statistics suggested that the province cultivated seeds over an area of 2.01 million hectares against the target of 2.31 million hectares.
Khan, however, added that the sowing situation was as poor in Punjab as it was in Sindh.
It suggests that the county will continue to face shortfall in cotton output this year too.
The government has set the target of producing 14 million bales (of 170 kg each) in the 2018-19 cotton season.
In the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, the country could produce only 11.5 million bales against the target of 14 million bales.
A former office-bearer of PCGA estimated that cotton production would remain short by around 25% from the target.
In 2011-12, the country had produced a bumper crop of 14.8 million bales against the target of 14.1 million. Since then, it has continued to miss production targets with output of around 10-11 million bales every year due to spread of virus and shortage of water.
The production shortfall may force yarn manufacturers to increase imports as they make purchases from overseas markets almost every year to meet the shortfall and get high-quality cotton. Total need in the country stands at around 16 million bales.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2018.