Farmers shift away from cotton

Low prices for crop adding to woes of cotton industry

Our Correspondent August 11, 2020
There are light rains in the cotton belt in Sindh. The soil has absorbed the rainwater instead of it standing in the fields. A similar quantum of rains is needed for a good output of cotton this season. PHOTO: REUTERS


Farmers are shifting from cotton to other crops due to low prices and to address overall imbalances in cotton industry, effective policy initiatives need to be undertaken, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam told participants of a webinar on Monday.

Speaking at the webinar titled “Problems faced by the cotton industry in Pakistan”, the minister said due to high contamination rate in the cotton produced in Pakistan, the export of the commodity was affected.

He added that the most important factor which affected cotton quality in Pakistan was the seed quality. He was of the view that to address the imbalances, effective policy initiatives should be taken.

The event organised by the Centre for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS) discussed production challenges, cotton quality deterioration and limited varieties of cotton seeds.

Speaking on the occasion, CGSS President Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery said to improve cotton production, linkages between the agriculture sector and industries needed to be enhanced.

He mentioned that there was a need to boost the overall condition of the cotton industry through modernisation and technology upgrade.

Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association former chairman Dr Jassu Mal emphasised the need for raising awareness among major stakeholders of the cotton industry. In addition to the general awareness of cotton production, technical training of farmers and workers was also required, he said. He added that cotton was still harvested by hand in Pakistan, which increased contamination and hence led to low-quality grading. Mal also mentioned that despite having the best canal system in the world, it was still underutilised in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Mian Anjum Nisar said cotton production not only supported the overall agriculture sector, but it also, directly and indirectly, helped various industries.

MNS-University of Agriculture, Multan Vice Chancellor Asif Ali stressed that for the overall improvement in the cotton industry, an effective regulatory mechanism needed to be introduced.

He highlighted the need for industrial upgrade for the overall strengthening of the cotton sector. He added that all major stakeholders should come together to address challenges for revival of the cotton industry. In a similar narrative, FPCCI Convener Mian Zahid Hussain advised the stakeholders to focus on providing solutions to the problems faced by the industry. He also emphasised the need for formulating new effective policies.

Shedding light on Uzbekistan’s cotton industry, Embassy of Uzbekistan Defence Attache Saadullah Tashmatov said Uzbekistan was ready to join hands with Pakistani farmers in order to search for new ways of cooperation in the sector. He added that his country looked forward to establishing cooperation between the food security departments.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2020.

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