Revival of cotton within sight

Expert believes country will reach previous output level of 14-15m bales


APP August 21, 2022

LAHORE:

Following a decline in cotton planting area and production last year, an expert is expecting the revival of cotton cultivation over the next few years.

Central Cotton Research Institute Multan Director Dr Zahid Mehmood told China Economic Net (CEN) in an interview that this year the production will be around 10 million bales.

In the next two years, Pakistan will be able to achieve the previous production level, which was around 14 to 15 million bales.

“Weather conditions are appropriate this year. The government has announced the fixed lowest price of Rs5,000 or more per maund,” he said.

“If the price falls from the fixed price, then the government will intervene and purchase the cotton. Next year or maybe this year, we are expecting the revival of cotton.”

The institute is also collaborating with China in the training of scientists and improving biotechnology labs for the transfer of gene technology, he added.

Mehmood suggested that radio stations be installed for the cotton growers to provide information and guidelines to them regarding new trends and challenges to the crop.

More than 40% of Pakistan’s employment depends on the cotton crop. Cotton is a source of income for the unemployed women as well.

However, over the last decade or so, the area under cotton cultivation has declined and has been replaced by competing crops like sugarcane, maize, potato and rice.

During 2021-22, the crop area declined by 6.8% year-on-year to 1,937 thousand hectares.

“Last year, cotton got very short and we had to import more than 50% of the commodity. Consumption was 14 million bales, but production was 5.6 to 5.7 million,” Muhammad Abdullah, Executive Director Sapphire Fibres Limited told CEN.

According to him, the sowing area was 20% less than the target. More importantly, unfavourable weather conditions such as rain or heat stress undermined the production per unit.

“The most important thing is seed. Such seeds should be developed that have greater recovery capacity and are less vulnerable to pest attacks and weather misadventures,” he suggested.

The problems cotton farmers are facing are mainly due to the shift in weather, but conventional seeds are still being used.

“The month in which we require less temperature, the temperature increased, which caused problems. Scientists are doing research in collaboration with Chinese experts,” he told CEN.

The article originally appeared on The China Economic Net

 

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2022.

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