DESPITE contributing 60 per cent to Pakistan’s total exports, the textile sector of the country has been badly affected during the last 15 years due to official inattention and low cotton production. Contrary to the claim of an improvement in the textile sector, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) reported a decline of 6pc in exports in 2020 compared to 2019.
Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world, with an average production of 1,350 metric tonnes. The current cotton production in the country is just about half of what it was producing until a few years ago, and is expected to decrease further in the next few years. The country now faces shortage of cotton and has to import it to meet its needs.
Experts attribute the decline in cotton production to lack of research and development. The per-acre yield of Pakistani farmers is about 50pc less than the global trend. As a result, the farmers have to spend money out of their own pockets. Although the price of our cotton in the international market is equal to that of other countries, it has become a major problem for the farmers because of the low per-acre yield.
For this reason, farmers are cultivating other commodities besides cotton, especially sugarcane, rice and maize. Thus, in the last five years, the area under cultivation for cotton crop has reduced, while the area under sugarcane, rice and maize crops has increased.
The relevant authorities should take immediate steps to manage this problem, provide subsidies and loans to the farmers, and establish an institute for cotton crop to educate the farmers about modern machinery and fertilisers.
Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2021