Cotton production falls by 26pc

Updated September 19, 2019

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The country’s cotton output faces a shortfall of 0.664 million bales or 26.41 per cent compared to same period last year, according to official figures released on Wednesday. — Reuters/File
The country’s cotton output faces a shortfall of 0.664 million bales or 26.41 per cent compared to same period last year, according to official figures released on Wednesday. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: The country’s cotton output faces a shortfall of 0.664 million bales or 26.41 per cent compared to same period last year, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

The production shortfall, recorded at the initial period of the season (2019-20) up to Sept 15, is unlikely to be fulfilled during the remaining period, observed cotton analyst Naseem Usman.

“It is an alarming situation which will directly impact country’s GDP and also put pressure on country’s foreign exchange reserves because huge quantity of around 3-4m cotton bales will have to be imported to meet the shortfall,” he added.

Further, Pakistan Cotton Ginners’ Association (PCGA) Chairman Mian Mahmood Ahmed said the promised incentives to cotton growers for achieving higher cotton production target were never released by the government.

The government had officially announced to fix indicative price of Rs4,000 per 40kg for phutti (seed cotton) to encourage growers to bring more area under cotton cultivation. However, the government failed to set the price at announced level.

Similarly, he said that despite agreeing during the several high-level meetings to engage Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) for the procurement of around 0.5m bales to stabilise cotton prices in the market, the government also backtracked on this promise.

The government promised incentives after carefully taking in to account the crop situation including rapid fall in cotton cultivation area as growers were shifting to other crops, a leading ginner from Bahawalpur, Abdul Sattar told Dawn.

He added that much of the area under cotton cultivation has been replaced by sugarcane crop as the government was giving export subsidy to sugar producers. Similarly, growers had also shifted toward corn as they could get three crops in a single year.

Chandar Lal, member advisory committee of Karachi Brokers’ Forum said climate change has also played havoc with cotton crop as high temperatures in Punjab are retarding cotton and resulting in lesser cotton balls. The output is further affected by pest attacks including Mealy Bug and Pink worm, he added.

He further said that atearlier in the season, cotton crop in Sindh had to face heavy rains and gusty winds, which resulted in shedding of cotton balls, therefore, the crop in the southern region, suffered quantitative as well as qualitative loss.

The cotton production in Punjab as of Sept 15, recorded a steep fall at 0.598m bales as against 0.980m bales produced in the corresponding period last year.

Cotton crop in Sindh also recorded a shortfall but fared better by producing 1.254m bales as against 1.537m bales recorded in the same period last year. This shows a shortfall of 0.283m bales or 18.42pc.

There is also a glaring difference in the pattern of fortnightly (Sept 1-15) arrival of phutti, which recorded a steep fall from 2.517m bales to 0.496m bales.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2019