ISLAMABAD: The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee announced here on Wednesday that 12.223 million bales of cotton is expected to be produced in the country this year against a target of 15 million bales due to floods in Sindh and consistent rains in the Punjab.
According to the final figures agreed at the first meeting of the committee, chaired by Secretary of Textile Shahid Rashid, cotton crop was sowed on an area of 0.65 million hectares in Sindh and 2.5 million hectares in the Punjab.
In aggregate, the total area under cotton cultivation this year was 6,956,607 acres.
Plantation was 0.67 per cent in Punjab and 12.25 per cent was above the targets set for the 2010-2011. However, recent rains and floods in Sindh damaged over 50,000 hectares of land under cotton cultivation which comprised more than 75 per cent of cotton cultivated in Sindh.
In Punjab, consistent rains resulted in shedding of flowers and immature fruiting bodies on an area of about 12,000 hectares.
The committee, however, observed that standing cotton crop was in healthy condition and the attack of cotton leaf curl virus (CLCV) was low as compared to the last year's damage caused by CLCV.
While cotton production continues to suffer in the Punjab and Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has emerged as a cotton growing area with substantial increase in the cotton growing area.
The committee observed that cultivation of cotton in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank had increased where it was sown on 100 acres in district Swabi.
The Ministry of Textiles, which is a member of the assessment committee, foresees an increasing trend of cotton cultivation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, particularly after the commencement of Gomal Zam irrigation project which would irrigate an estimated 163,000 acres in the province.Attending the meeting, representative of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa asked the All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) to provide incentives to poor cotton growers to encourage them to grow more cotton in the province.
Aptma representative assured the provincial government that it would be ready to provide free-of-cost seeds to growers in the cotton-promising areas.
The Secretary of Textiles asked the Pakistan Cotton Ginners' Association (PCGA) to standardise the weight of cotton bales as per international standards. The committee would meet again on Nov 23 to review the estimates of production.
One significant issue is the indigenous cotton leaf curl virus, which is particularly injurious to the main cotton producing districts of the Punjab, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that a programme was currently underway to address the virus problem.
However, the FAO pointed out that as the CLCV is confined to India and Pakistan, little external assistance is available for development of resistant varieties.
The effects are severe, with yield differentials between affected districts in Punjab and unaffected parts of Sindh as much as 500kg per hectare, the FAO says.