Cotton growers’ woes

The uncontrolled invasion of locusts swarms has added to the problems of growers

July 06, 2020

Pakistan has been experiencing a speedy decline in cotton production in recent years. Now Sindh’s farmers have warned of a further drop in the output for lack of interest on the part of the government in taking remedial measures.

In a recent meeting, the Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) blamed the federal and provincial governments for allowing things to go downhill continuously ignoring farmers’ plea to help improve the situation. In recent years, cotton farmers had increasingly been confronting a plethora of problems resulting in increasingly low yield. They claimed this sowing season — from March till May — the government allowed the sale of seeds with only 50% germination, which was inapplicable. They said previously in the province seeds with 25% germination was allowed to be sold while international standards required seed of 98% germination.

What has made matters worse is the price of seed has been increased to Rs300 per kilogram from Rs250 per kilogram. The uncontrolled invasion of locusts swarms has added to the problems of growers. In areas more vulnerable to locust attacks, farmers have had to sow double or triple the quantity of seeds normally sown. Growers said they were compelled to do this because locusts ate up large amounts of seeds and the spending crops over acres in no time. Locusts have created a lot of problems for farmers in general and for cotton growers in particular.

The farmers’ organisation said there had been difficulties repeatedly trying to draw the attention of the authorities towards their ever-increasing woes but all their please have fallen on deaf ears. The consequences are that in recent years, cotton production had declined from 14.8 million bales to 9.4 million bales, resulting in continuous losses to farmers. They have asked the government to take corrective steps like appropriate research to prevent the declining cotton yield. They have sought subsidies of Rs37 billion on fertilisers to keep cotton farming sustainable.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2020.

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