ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government on Tuesday informed the Cotton Intervention Price (CIP) meeting that the province was unlikely to achieve the cotton production target owing to water crisis.
Out of the total estimated cotton sowing target this year, Sindh was to grow cotton over an area of 0.64 million hectares. However, a representative of the Sindh Agriculture Department informed the CIP meeting — chaired by Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhr Imam — that cotton has been grown on 0.533m hectares due to the scarcity of water, hence the sowing target has been lowered.
With Sindh lowering the cotton sowing target, it is unlikely that the country would be able to achieve the estimated target of 10.51m bales of cotton this year set by the government. However, Mr Imam insisted that the cotton production target would be achieved.
In Punjab, out of 1.6m hectares, cotton has been sown on 1.35m hectares. In total, 1.96m hectares of land was sown with cotton in the country against a target of 2.32m hectares. 84 per cent land has been sown with cotton this year in Punjab.
According to official statistics, during 2020-21, cotton crop was cultivated on 2,079 thousand hectares, reflecting a contraction of 17.4pc as compared to last year’s sown area of 2,517 thousand hectares. Production declined by 22.8pc to 7.064m bales against production of 9.148m bales last year.
Declining cultivated area has reduced production as the crop has lost its competitiveness relative to other major crops, in particular sugarcane. Cotton contributes around 0.6pc to GDP and 3.1pc of the value added in agriculture.
The government is also exploring avenues for growing cotton in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where pest pressure is low and cotton yields are reportedly higher than traditional areas of Punjab and Sindh. Moreover, organic cotton farming is also going on in Balochistan. All efforts are being made for the timely issuance of subsidy for pesticides, seeds and fertilisers through Kissan cards. For Kharif 2021, certified cotton seed availability is at 43,525 tonnes — the highest in the past four years.
The ministry has initiated an ‘Agriculture Transformation Plan’ including amending relevant laws to fast track release of new cotton varieties with novel technologies. Track and traceability of quality certified seed to farmers has also been initiated so that the impact of interventions can translate at farm level.
In another meeting, Mr Imam met with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday to brief him about the measures being taken for the revival of livestock sector. The minister also informed PM Khan about the record production of wheat, rice, maize, onion, potato and some pulses.
The prime minister expressed his satisfaction over the measures being taken by the government for the development of agriculture sector and said that all available resources were being mobilised to enhance the production capabilities.
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2021