Cotton crop suffers major losses

Updated 05 Nov 2019

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Labourers unload cotton from a tractor-trolley at the Ghalla Mandi in Bahawalpur. Harsh weather and pest attacks along with use of uncertified seed and poor quality pesticides by growers has led to reduced per acre yield. — APP photo
Labourers unload cotton from a tractor-trolley at the Ghalla Mandi in Bahawalpur. Harsh weather and pest attacks along with use of uncertified seed and poor quality pesticides by growers has led to reduced per acre yield. — APP photo

KARACHI: Climate change resulting in high temperatures, heavy rains and gusty winds has taken its toll on cotton crop production which reduced by 21 per cent to 6.097 million bales as against 7.706m bales produced in the same period last year.

According to Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) figures till Nov 1, 2019 released on Monday, Punjab suffered cotton production losses by up to 34.5 per cent and Sindh by 18.15pc.

Last year’s cotton production was itself highly dismal at 10.07m bales. Comparing current season’s cotton production with 2018-19 cotton season would not give a fair picture, particularly when the country produced 14.96m bales in 2013-14.

Apart from harsh weather, recent locust attack in some cotton growing areas of Punjab and second spell of rains last week in upper Sindh has further deteriorated the situation, observed cotton analyst Naseem Usman.

A wholesome change in cotton policy and its cultivation methodology is urgently needed if the country has to remain a cotton growing country in the world, he further added.

A grower and cotton trader from Umer Kot, Mr Gomomal told Dawn there is an urgent need to develop new cotton seeds varieties which could meet the climate change challenges.

He further said the current season’s results of cotton cultivation and production should be an eye opener for the government, growers, ginners, textile industry and as a nation we have to collectively find a way out to averted such debacle in future.

A ginner from Punjab, Mian Mahmood Ahmed bemoaned the situation and said that last year a total 909 ginning units were operating and now only 738 units are active.

“The issue is not so grim but unfortunately government departments entrusted with the task of research are not working. The country needs new variety of cotton seed with high yield potential and should also be temperature and pest resistance,” he said.

A member of Karachi Cotton Brokers’ Forum Amir Naseem said that instead of relying on government departments for coming up new cotton seeds, the textile industry should take the task upon itself.

“If rice exporters can engage themselves in backward integration for ensuring quantity and quality production of paddy then why does the textile industry, which has the biggest industrial base of the country, could not do the same,” he questioned.

The situation is so grim that Punjab being the biggest producer of cotton suffered cotton production loss of up to 34.5pc on producing 2.049m bales as against 3.123m bales produced in the corresponding period last year.

Similarly, Sindh being second largest cotton producer also suffered badly with a steep cut of 18.15pc in cotton production. The province up to November 1 produced 2.390m bales as against 2.920m bales produced in the same period last year.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2019