KARACHI, Jan 3: Sustained arrival of phutti (seed cotton) in Sindh could not off-set sudden drop of phutti arrival witnessed during the fag end of first picking in the Punjab as a result the overall national cotton production remained lesser by 3.70 per cent at 11.586 million bales over the corresponding period last year.

According to figures jointly compiled by the PCGA, Aptma and KCA, phutti arrival up to Jan 1 remained slower mainly due to sudden decline recorded in phutti picking in the Punjab early last month.

Cotton analysts say that last year when Sindh was facing a difficult situation for cotton crop owing to heavy rains and floods which damaged standing crops, arrival stood short by up to 31.07 per cent.

However, this year when arrival of phutti in Sindh is higher by 34.50 per cent at 3.234 million bales, it could not fill the national shortfall.

About 829,820 more bales have been produced so far this season in Sindh.

Contrary to this, last year Punjab harvested a bumper cotton crop and arrival of phutti up to Jan 1, 2011 was higher by 42.60 per cent at 9.627 million bales and this also helped cover up short fall in cotton production that was being witnessed in Sindh.

However, this season phutti arrival during fag end of first picking in the Punjab suddenly dipped down which took everyone by surprise because prior to this, arrival was at much higher pace and it was being estimated that the country may have yet another bumper cotton crop of around 15 million bales.

Official figures disclosed that arrival of phutti in the Punjab remained slow and up to Jan 1, 2012, around 8.357 million bales reached ginneries showing a shortfall of 13.25 per cent or 1.275 million bales over the corresponding period last year.

Last season Punjab produced around 9.627 million bales during the period under review.

With a total shortfall of around 445,440 bales being recorded up to Jan 1, 2012 the country could hardly reach a production target of around 13 million bales this season, cotton analysts and watchers told Dawn on Thursday.

As the season progresses, they fear the gap would widen because subsequent pickings are of much lesser impact on overall production.

This could be verified from the fact that fortnightly arrival of phutti is also declining and during Dec 15, to Jan 1, 2012, around 817,869 bales reached ginneries as against 996,152 bales in the same period last year which shows a shortfall in arrival of around 178,283 bales.

However, it is encouraging that spinning mills maintained their pace in purchase of raw cotton at 9.735 million bales as against 9.817 million bales in the same period last year.

But exporters have lifted lesser quantity owing to higher prices of cotton in the domestic market and only 186,865 bales were purchased compared to 518,011 bales they booked in the same period last year.

Ginners are also holding unsold stocks of cotton close to that of last year at 1.664 million bales compared to 1.696 million bales held by them in the same period last year.

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