LAHORE: Notwithstanding the ongoing heatwave, poor picking and bugs attack, at least 0.9 million bales of raw cotton reached ginning factories during the last two weeks in the country keeping the hopes alive for a much better crop this year as compared with the last season.
The figures released by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) for the first fortnight of September reveal that around 3.93m bales were produced till Sept 15 which is 1.74m bales or 80 per cent more than 2.18m bales by this time last year.
As per cotton production breakup, Sindh produced over 2.389m bales against 1.11m bales last year which shows an increase of 115.26pc, while the output in Punjab was 1.545m bales against 1.076m bales last season, an increase of 43.47pc.
The data shows that the exporters, including an international firm, have so far bought over 0.221m bales against just 3,080 bales last year; textile spinners more than 3.3m bales against 1.76m bales (an increase of 88pc) last season. Whereas, ginning factories are holding a stock of 0.40m bales, around 5.25pc less than last year’s figure of 0.422m bales.
The fortnightly flow was recorded at 892,742 bales against last season’s 646,883 bales for the same fortnight (Sept 1-15).
There is, however, a difference of views between ginners and brokers on the phutti or raw cotton arrivals.
Cotton Ginners Forum chairman Ihsan-ul-Haq says the arrival of 0.893m bales during the fortnight is less than the expected output of 1.1m bales and attributes this drop in production to whitefly attack in the cotton belt of Punjab which has damaged about 0.5 to 0.7m bales of lint.
Pakistan Cotton Brokers Association Secretary Sundas Ayub believes that the PCGA’s arrival figures are in line of the market expectations given the high temperature in the cotton-producing areas. She hopes that the raw cotton flow is likely to improve in the coming days as the weather is getting conducive to the crop. However, the cotton prices seem steady in view of strong buying interest from mills to fetch quality lint, she adds.
Mr Haq says that the area under crop in Punjab was less than claimed by the agriculture authorities. Quoting an official of the Punjab Crop Reporting Services, he says that the data collected through the geographical information system (GIS) reveals the cotton sown on 3.5m acres against the official claims of 4.8m acres.
Also, he says, the department has not submitted the acreage data collected by Suparco’s satellite facility.
Karachi Cotton Brokers Forum chairman Naseem Usman says that despite all issues the cotton arrival figures for Sept 1-15 give the hope that total production would be around 9m bales. He, however, expresses concerns about the quality of cotton presently being hauled to ginning units and predicts a significant difference in rates for average cotton and quality cotton during the coming weeks.
He puts the likely local consumption at 12.5m bales and says that the textile industry has so far struck import deals for 2.2-2.5m bales, while import of around 1.5m more bales will be required to meet the needs of the spinning industry.
Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2023