Cotton production plummets 34pc

Updated February 19, 2016

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KARACHI: Pakistan’s cotton production has shrunk by a third this season, falling by 34 per cent to 9.687 million bales from 14.593m bales a year ago, the Pakistan Cotton Ginners’ Association (PCGA) said on Thursday.

This shortfall, by some calculations, is going to inflict a loss of billions of dollars on the economy. These estimates, being put up by cotton experts, are based on cost of cotton, value-addition of textile products, oilcake, and, above all, the rising import bill in the wake of crop failure.

Naseem Usman, the chairman of Karachi Brokers Forum, said the production would further go down to 9m bales if the weight of a cotton bale is placed at 170kg as per the government scale. The PCGA calculates a bale’s weight at 155kg, he added.

He said that already around 3.2m bales have been imported — 2.3m bales from India alone.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, the country spent $434m (Rs45bn) on cotton imports during the first six months (July-December) of this fiscal year.

The unfortunate part of the entire tragedy, Mr Usman said, was that there was hardly any awareness or concern at the government level which should have immediately started planning for next cotton crop (2016-17). The cotton was the most sensitive crop as it had far-reaching implications on the entire eco­nomy and exports, he added.

In Punjab, cotton production has declined by 44pc to 5.927m bales compared to 10.639m bales a year earlier. By contrast, Sindh’s output has suffered slightly as it has produced 3.759m bales this season, a fall of around 5pc compared to 3.954m bales a year ago.

The fortnightly flow of phutti also remained in the red as only 84,287 bales were received by ginneries during Feb 1 to 15, 2016 compared to 158,694 bales in the comparable period of last year.

The textile industry purchased 8.329m bales as against 12.938m bales last season. Similarly, exporters also booked less cotton at 358,418 compared to 463,162 bales.

Ginners are holding around 998,937 bales of unsold cotton as against 1.097m bales in the corresponding period of last season. Around 68 ginning units are operating in Punjab compared to 170 units last year, and only 11 units are functioning in Sindh compared to 32 units a year ago.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2016