ISLAMABAD: Cotton crop sowing in the country during current season (2020-21) decreased by 1.3 per cent compared to the last year.
Cotton, major cash crop and industrial raw material for the textile sector, was on downwards trajectory due to various issues, said Ministry of National Food Security and Research’s Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah.
Talking to APP on Tuesday, he said that cotton crop was cultivated on 2.457m hectares against the target of 2.663m hectares. He said that 92pc of the cotton cultivation target was achieved during current season.
He said that area under cotton cultivation in Punjab decreased by 2.5pc as crop was sown over 1.890m hectares against the target of 2.03m hectares.
However, he said that the cotton sowing in Sindh registered 2.7pc increase as it was cultivated over 0.615m hectares as against last year’s 0.599m hectares.
The commissioner further said that declining trend in cotton growing area was mainly attributed to increase in covered area under competing crops including sugarcane, maize and rice.
“Due to the low input cost and less investment in competing crops, besides decreasing pricing trends of cotton in international markets, farmers prefer cultivation of these crops and have shifted their land into other crops,” he remarked.
The second main reason was low cultivation was the late harvesting of wheat, he said while adding that cotton is largely grown in wheat producing areas and late harvesting resulted in decline in cotton growing area.
The third and main reason, he said was the government’s failure to announce cotton support price, which discouraged growers.
Due to declining trend in cotton prices in international markets, farmers were expecting government intervention to protect their interests, he said adding that absence of support price mechanism also discouraged local farmers to cultivate the crop and encouraged them to shift towards crops with better returns.
Abdullah further said during the current Kharif season, sugarcane sowing witnessed about 16pc increase as compared to the same period of last year.
Meanwhile, the sowing of other competing crops like maize and rice had also witnessed significant growth, he said adding that the country already has surplus in production of these crops.
In order to cope with the prevailing situation and encouraging farmers to grow more cotton, he said government had evolved a scheme of incentives that would reduce the input cost of cotton, besides reducing the cost of doing business.
He said that government had announced subsidies on fertilisers and pesticides in its agricultural emergency program and farmers would be provided fertilisers and pesticides on controlled rates.
Besides, to ensure availability of cheaper agriculture credit, the government had also announced to pay 10pc markup on agriculture loans for growers, adding that interest rate on agriculture lending was charged at the rate of 16pc.
In order to control the pest attack on cotton like white fly and pink ballworm, he said government had also provided subsidy on the imports of PB Rope.
He said that government was also working to ensure 100pc availability of high yielding, pest resistant seeds to enhance per-acre crop output.
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2020