ISLAMABAD: The installation of new sugar mills are resulting in shrinkage of cotton crop area, a leading ginner has complained.
He pointed out that despite cotton crop zones earmarked by the Punjab and Sindh governments, the new sugar units continue to crop up, which may necessitate huge imports of cotton by the country.
“The huge import of cotton due to shrinking of production area may cause pressure on foreign exchange in the future to meet textile industry’s needs,” Ihsan ul Haq, Member Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) said.
In a statement issued here on Monday, he said that apprehensions of significant decline in cotton and wheat production due to rising sugarcane crop area are well-founded. Besides, ecological changes due to expanded sugarcane area may trigger virus attack on the cotton crop, he added.
He expressed the apprehension that textile mills will have to import huge quantity of cotton in the future to meet their needs, putting added strain on the precious foreign exchange.
He pointed out that during the year 2010-11, the cotton crop area in Punjab was 6.7 million acres and in Sindh it was close to 2.0 million acres but now the cotton area has gradually shrunk to 5.7 million acres and 1.4 million acres in the two provinces, respectively.
The increase in sugarcane area is changing the ecology and inducing suffocation favorable for virus attack on cotton, he said, adding that this will result in lower cotton yields and poor quality of cotton produce.
He added that according to the Cane Act the sugar mills must start crushing by up to 31st October in Sindh and up to 30th November in Punjab but sugar mills deliberately use delaying tactics so that farmers may not sow wheat after cutting the sugarcane crop and may be forced to cultivate sugarcane again.
“It’s apprehended that after a few years Pakistan will be forced to import huge quantity of wheat.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2013.
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