Plan to boost cotton output

Updated 14 Nov 2014

Email

— Reuters/File
— Reuters/File

KARACHI: The Ministry of Textile Industry is working on a plan to enhance cotton production to 22 million bales by utilising technology, supportive policies and effective research work.

This was stated by Ms Rukhsana Shah, Secretary, Ministry of Textile Industry, during her visit to Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) here on Thursday where she met all segments in the cotton trade.

She apprised the KCA members that the US Department of Agriculture is coordinating with Pakistan to work out on a plan to eradicate Curl Leave Cotton Virus (CLCV) and has donated over 4,000 cotton germ-plasma which is being used in developing new cotton varieties with desirable traits.

The secretary said that the textile sector in Pakistan has remained stagnant over the last decades due to a number of factors.

These include subsidies given to cotton growers by several countries which distort international prices, marketing constraints, global recession and increasingly stringent conditions laid down by buyers.

Consequently, Rukhsana Shah said cotton production has remained stagnant at about 13 to 14m bales per annum mainly due to poor seed quality, low germination levels and absence of Plant Breeders Right Act, which would have opened up doors to new technologies and varieties necessary for achieving higher yield.

Another constraint was the resistance to grading and standardization of cotton bales by ginners and spinners which consistently lowered the value of Pakistani cotton by around 10 cents per pound in the world market, she added.

Ms Shah warned that new countries from Africa and Latin America were fast joining production of cotton and its marketing which is based on both technologically sound and environmentally sustainable instruments based on standardisation system and on-line data verification of every bale of cotton they would produce.

In order to face these challenges, the secretary disclosed that her ministry recently re-introduced the CSF and also restructured the Pakistan Cotton Standards Institute so that it may play an important role in improving quality and contamination levels in our cotton.

Karachi Cotton Association chairman Amin Hashwani expressed concern over the recent intervention of Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) in the market.

He further said that such initiatives would reap windfall profits for ginners instead of growers, create distortions in the market, making the downstream industries uncompetitive.

The TCP cotton procurement, he said, would also burden the government with billions of rupees losses.

Amin Hashwani suggested that it would be prudent to give subsidy directly to growers as it would have been effective as well as more economically for the national exchequer.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2014