Sindh calls for Rs11,000 per maund cotton support price as farmers cut back cultivation

The current support price of seed cotton should be set at Rs11,000 per maund to address the issue of inadequate pricing

By Shahid Shah
April 16, 2024
Pakistani workers process freshly picked cotton at a factory at Khanewal in Punjab. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh government has asked the federal government to raise the support price of seed cotton (phutti) to Rs11,000 per maund from Rs8,500 per maund, emphasising the urgent need to address the issue of inadequate pricing that has adversely affected cotton cultivation in the province.


Last year, Mian Shehbaz Sharif, as a caretaker prime minister, announced a minimum cotton support price of Rs8,500 per maund for the farmers, even though agriculture is no longer a federal government’s business after the 18th amendment.

"The current support price of seed cotton should be set at Rs11,000 per maund to address the issue of inadequate pricing, which has resulted in farmers refraining from cultivating cotton, consequently leading to severe hardships for farmers in Sindh," said Sindh Minister of Agriculture and Anti-Corruption, Sardar Muhammad Bux Mahar.

The minister said the current target for cotton cultivation in Sindh for the current year is 640,000 hectares. "However, the sowing of cotton in Sindh has declined by 20 percent due to the increased costs of fertilizers, seeds, petroleum products, and agricultural medicines, which have escalated the expenses for farmers," he added.

Mahar highlighted the predicament faced by farmers, stating that "if farmers did not receive a fair price for cotton in the previous season, how would they undertake cultivation this year?"

He stressed the need for the federal government to ensure a support price of Rs11,000 per maund to incentivize farmers to cultivate more cotton.

The minister asserted that when farmers receive a good price, they will cultivate cotton, which is essential for the national textile industry. Concerns were also raised about the shortage of water allocated to Sindh at the beginning of the cropping season. Failure to provide Sindh with its due share of water could result in a reduction in the cultivation of crops such as cotton and rice.

Mahar criticised the decision of the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) to reject the decision to provide water to Sindh under the three-tier formula. He argued that by imposing decisions under the three-tier formula, IRSA is being unfair to the farmers of Sindh.

He warned that IRSA intends to turn agricultural lands barren by denying Sindh its due share of water. "The shortage of water allocation could result in irreparable losses during the cropping season for crops such as cotton, rice, sugarcane, and others."

Mehmood Nawaz Shah, president of the Sindh Abadgar Board, told The News that agriculture was a provincial government mandate, but the prime minister had set a support price last year to encourage farmers, especially in Punjab, to grow more cotton.

"Cotton was a difficult but necessary crop as ginning and textile factories existed in Pakistan. However, there was no implementation of this decision.""A production of around one million bales roughly provides foreign exchange of around $2 billion to the country. Last year, it happened, but no benefit was provided to the farmers," Shah said.

He said that there was a need to formulate a mechanism of prices that would support not only the farmers but the industry as well, as cotton is an important crop. However, its area under cultivation was decreasing due to a lack of appropriate policies.

Cotton production in the 2023-24 season remained around 8.4 million bales. Of those, around 60,000 bales have remained with the ginners."Although a very little quantity of seed cotton (phutti) was left with the ginners, its price remained around Rs9,500 to Rs10,500 per maund in the market earlier this month."