ISLAMABAD: 

The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) will start buying one million bales of cotton from farmers in the first week of November and achieve the goal in one and a half month.

“Purchase centres in Sindh and Punjab will be fully functional and will buy cotton at Rs3,000 per 40 kg,” said TCP Chairman Rizwan Ahmed during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research here on Tuesday.

Since 2005-06 the TCP had not been in the business of cotton purchase, but this year after a decision taken by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) the corporation revived its centres in Sindh and Punjab for the procurement drive, he said.

Senate Committee Chairman Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah expressed his dismay over the performance of some ministries, particularly the Ministry of Textile Industry, which, he said, not only snatched powers of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, but also worked to the disadvantage of farmers.

“The textile ministry only promotes and protects the rights of industrialists and ignores the farmers,” he remarked. He also voiced concern over delay in the purchase of cotton, saying farmers in Sindh, known for early sowing, had started harvesting the crop. He suggested that the government should set the support price before the plantation of crops so that farmers could be encouraged.

“It’s the textile minister that sent the summary with some delay,” said the TCP chairman.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Shah said the cotton price was hovering in the range of Rs2,100 to Rs2,200 per 40 kg in the market, adding that being the chairman of the standing committee he asked the Agriculture Advisory Committee to fix the price in consultation with the farmers. Later, they sent their proposals to the ECC for its consideration.

On October 2, the ECC, which met under the chairmanship of Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, discussed the proposal submitted by the textile ministry for the support price for the cotton crop of 2014-15.

The committee approved the price of Rs3,000 per 40 kg for base grade-3 cotton for the benefit of the farming community. It decided that the TCP would buy one million bales of cotton at the support price.

The ECC also constituted a committee headed by the federal minister for national food security and research to oversee the cotton purchase by the TCP. Members of the committee included the secretaries for finance, commerce and textile industry. It held its first meeting on October 16.

The Senate committee noted that this year about 13.539 million bales of cotton were expected to be produced in Pakistan. Punjab will churn out 9.538 million bales, Sindh 3.6 million bales, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 0.0015 million bales and Balochistan 400,000 bales. Each bale approximately weighs 120 kg of raw cotton.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.

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