Steep fall in cotton output

October 04, 2019

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KARACHI: An unprecedented fall of 27.04 per cent was recorded in cotton production up to Oct 1. The drastic fall in cotton production would not only directly hit GDP growth rate but would also burden country’s foreign exchange reserves due to the huge cotton import bill.

According to latest figures issued by Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), cotton production recorded a steep fall of 1.087 million bales. The country produced 2.933m bales as against 4.020m bales in the same period last year. As a result of this shortfall, cotton prices in the domestic market are presently being quoted highest in the world.

The country has also become the biggest importer of US cotton. The weekly report of US Department of Agriculture disclosed that Pakistan imported 62,900 bales so far.

Cotton production in Punjab declined by up to 35.87 per cent on producing 1.165m bales as against 1.818m bales produced in the corresponding period last year. This means that the province has produced 0.652m less bales.

Similarly, Sindh province recorded a fall of 19.74pc in cotton production and produced 1.767m bales compared to 2.202m bales produced in the same period last year. As a result 0.435m less cotton bales have been produced.

PCGA chairman Sohail Javed Rehmani said presently the entire cotton economy is under distress and this could be verified from the fact that much smaller number of ginning units are presently operating. In total 581 ginning units are operating as against 777 units last year.

“The short cotton crop has badly hit rural economy including workforce where picking of cotton is still done manually and also engages a large number of womenfolk,” he said. “For the last five years cotton production had been consistently falling,” he lamented.

A leading cotton broker Amir Naseem said that successive governments took no interest in resolving issues confronting cotton crop where the biggest issue had been of developing new variety cotton seeds and ensuring supply of certified seed to growers.

He further said that supply of inferior quality pesticides and fertiliser also results in short crop since growers often fail to identify between certified and non-certified products. Above all cultivated area under cotton crop also declining on each passing year, he added.

A leading cotton dealer from Multan, Major Muhammad Kashif Islam said that this is an alarming situation.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2019