Climate affects global cotton production

Published December 27, 2023
Pakistan has produced 8.5 million bales of cotton against the downward revised production target of 11.15m bales for the current season.—APP/file
Pakistan has produced 8.5 million bales of cotton against the downward revised production target of 11.15m bales for the current season.—APP/file

LAHORE: Reports from major cotton-producing countries, including Pakistan, suggest that adverse weather conditions have marred white lint yield during the ongoing crop season though the phenomenon has failed to cause any impact on the cotton markets.

For the cotton year 2023-24, Pakistan had initially allocated a production target of 12.8 million bales (170kg each) which was later revised down to 11.15m bales.

However, due to the extremely adverse weather conditions and a severe attack of the whitefly in Punjab, there has been a drastic decrease in cotton production. It is feared that the total lint production in the country this year will be around 8.5m bales only.

Reports from the United States say that the total cotton production this year was initially expected to be 15.5m bales (each 480 pounds), but the estimate has now been brought down to 12.78m bales.

Similarly, the latest report of the Cotton Association of India (CAI) suggests that total domestic production this year will be around 29.4m bales (170 kg) against 31.9m bales during the cotton year 2022-23.

Indian growers had been expecting even a better harvest this year, but an unexpected heat wave coupled with a severe attack of pink bollworm badly damaged the crop.

Likewise, total cotton production in China this year is expected to be 25.8m bales, while last year the crop output touched the mark of 27.5m bales.

Cotton Ginners Forum chairman Ihsanul Haq says that China is making heavy purchases of cotton from Pakistan and the USA suggesting that there are fears of further reduction in its domestic cotton production.

Answering a question about the increasing cultivation of the ‘triple gene’ variety of cotton in Pakistan for the last two or three years, he says the new seed is gaining popularity among the growers mainly because it resists pink bollworm attack.

He, however, cautions that the herbicides sprayed on this variety are damaging soil and affecting the growth of other crops on the lands causing serious concerns among the growers as well as seed companies.

He claims that the germination of wheat in the lands freed from triple-gene cotton had been very low last season due to which some farmers had to cultivate wheat twice.

He stresses upon agricultural scientists to develop herbicides for this cotton variety that are not harmful to soil and other crops sown in the fields post-harvesting of cotton.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2023

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