KARACHI: The cotton production edged up during the last fortnight (Sept 15 to Oct 1) mainly due to a substantial growth of production in Punjab.

According to latest figures released by the ginners’ body, the country managed to produce 4.020 million bales, up 0.74 per cent from 3.991m bales produced in corresponding period of last season.

However, negative grow­th was recorded by Sindh as lesser area was cultivated owing to shortage of irrigation water. It is being estimated that no more than 11.5-11.20m bales would be produced this season, analysts said.

Sindh suffered heavily and produced 2.202m bales up to Oct 1 versus 2.312m bales in same period last year, reflecting a decline of 4.76pc or 0.11m bales.

But higher production in Punjab helped offset the shortfall as the province produced 1.818m bales as against 1.678m bales same time last year - up 8.31pc or 0.138m bales. There were some reports of pest attack in several districts but didn’t have much impact.

“Without introducing new variety of seed and technology at ginning stage, the cotton economy cannot improve,” observed a cotton analyst, Naseem Usman.

The cotton crop for the last three consecutive seasons had been short and dwindled to around 10-11m bales after hitting peak in 2014-15 around 14.50m bales, he added.

There is an urgent need that the government focus on cotton crop if GDP is to be improved and more jobs created. This year, around 4m bales would be imported to meet the shortfall.

Production in Balochistan went up 5.88pc to 67,718 bales — higher by 3,763 bales.

However, it is a matter of concern that the fortnightly flow of cotton (Sept 15 to Oct 1, 2018) was slow at 1.503m bales as against 1.625m bales (for 18 days flow) in same period last year - a shortfall of 122,392 bales.

On the consumption side, textile industry has purchased more cotton stock so far at 2.991m bales versus 2.96m bales last season. The exporters, however, lifted lesser quantity at 65,012 bales as against 145,886 bales last year.

The ginners are currently holding a higher quantity of cotton at 963,772 bales from 885,322 bales but fewer ginning factories are operating in Punjab and Sindh this season.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2018