LAHORE: Amid reports that ginners are resorting to under-reporting the arrival of raw cotton to save taxes as well as underpay the growers, the Punjab agriculture authorities have decided to record the crop production on their own and field the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) as a player in the cotton market.
So far, cotton arrival in the ginning factories in the province has been 100 per cent more than the figures from last year.
According to the Punjab Crop Reporting Service, cotton production in the province was approximately more than 2.2 million bales by mid-September this year.
However, in the wake of reports of under-documentation/under-reporting by the ginning factories, Agriculture Secretary Iftikhar Sahoo has directed the extension wing to maintain a record of cotton arrivals on their own instead of relying on the ginners for the statistics.
Some cotton growers alleged that the ginners paid them less than Rs8,500 per 40, which is the minimum support price promised by the Punjab government at the onset of the cotton sowing season.
Prices remained stable after the arrival of cotton in the market, and farmers initially received rates between Rs8,500 to Rs9,200. However, with the fall of the dollar value against the rupee, cotton rates were re-adjusted to between Rs7,800 to Rs8,000.
A spokesperson for the Punjab Agriculture Department says that, considering the cotton market trends, it has been decided that the TCP should be brought on board immediately to ensure the payment of the minimum support price to the farming community.
The spokesperson says that all officers and staff of the department are working tirelessly to achieve the cotton production target this year.
Counting the steps the department took for the revival of cotton in the province, he says that approved varieties of cotton seeds were provided to the growers at subsidized rates, and a subsidy worth billions of rupees had been provided on Potash and Phosphorus fertilisers.
Resultantly, more than 4.2 million acres had been brought under cotton cultivation this year. Cotton expert groups were created to formulate technical advice according to weather conditions and pest positions, and this advice was delivered to the farmers through the extension service at the farmers’ doorsteps.
He says that cotton production contests were also announced to create a spirit of healthy competition among farmers, and facilitation centres were set up at the tehsil level, where cotton growers could obtain quality pesticides at subsidized rates.
For the control of whitefly infestation in the cotton belt in south Punjab, quality pesticides were sprayed with the help of drones and helicopters provided by the army on an area of 80,000 acres. The massive pest management campaign and change in weather had a positive impact on the standing cotton crop.
Meanwhile, all field staff of the department, especially in South Punjab, have been fully mobilized to remain engaged with the farmers for effective crop management till the end so that maximum cotton production can be achieved, he concludes.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2023