Friday June 21, 2024

Government sets sights on bumper cotton crop with 29 percent output increase for FY24-25

By Israr Khan
April 26, 2024
Representational file of cotton crop. — APP File
Representational file of cotton crop. — APP File

ISLAMABAD: The government has set a cotton crop production target of 10.8 million bales for the upcoming season of FY2024-25, aiming to revitalise a sector that has faced challenges in recent years.

Cotton, a linchpin of Pakistan's textile industry, has struggled to meet production goals, consistently falling below 10 million bales in recent years. In FY2023-24, the total cotton output was 8.336 million bales which was over 72 percent more than FY2022-23’s production. Notably, in 2022 floods wreaked havoc on the cotton supply and production.

The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA), chaired by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Rana Tanveer Hussain, convened here to assess Rabi season crop production and set targets for the upcoming Kharif season 2024/25. With hopes pinned on sufficient water and fertilizer availability to support a bumper crop

In Pakistan, the Kharif cropping season, which spans from April 1 to September 30, features crops like Sugarcane, Cotton, Maize, and Rice. Conversely, the Rabi season, from October 1 to March 31, sees the cultivation of Wheat, Gram, Lentil, Potatoes, Onions, and Tomatoes.

Hussain underscored the imperative for innovative strategies and reinforced support systems to meet the set target, recognizing the pivotal role of cotton in fueling exports and fostering economic prosperity.

The FCA deliberated over production targets for crucial Kharif crops for the 2024-25 season.Rice, being another critical crop for both domestic consumption and export, was allocated a production target of 8.7 million tons over 3.1 million hectares of land for the upcoming Kharif season. Maize production was targeted at 9.3 million tons.

For sugarcane, a significant cash crop, the committee set a production target of 76.7 million tons over 1.3 million hectares for the upcoming season, however, it is less than last year’s production. Minister Hussain emphasized the need for fair pricing mechanisms and timely payments to sugarcane growers to restore confidence and incentivize production.

The committee also set production targets for other crops such as Mung, Mash, and Chilies, aligning Pakistan's agricultural agenda with broader economic objectives.The Committee, evaluating Rabi crop performance for 2023-24, observed wheat production at 29.69 million tons, reflecting a 5.4 percent rise from the previous year. However, it fell short of the 32.2 million tons target by 8.45 percent, amounting to 2.5 million tons less.

Onion production stood at 1.92 million tons with a 3.9 percent increase. Tomato production reached 627.47 thousand tons with a 3.9 percent production increase. Potato production hit 8.1 million tons, exceeding the last FCA target by 27.9 percent.

After FCA meeting, chairing another meeting of the Fertilizer Review Committee, Hussian who is also the minister for Industries and Production, recommended 200,000 tons of urea fertilizer to stabilize prices and supply in the country during Kharif season. The final decision on import will be made by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in its upcoming meeting.

He stated that urea fertilizer demand has risen by 3.6 percent compared to the previous year, with an anticipated demand of 3.44 million metric tons for the upcoming Kharif season. Currently, there are approximately 3.192 million tons in stock nationwide. To address the shortfall, 0.2 million metric tons will be imported, with the remainder met through increased local production. All local fertilizer plants will operate at full capacity, supported by ensured gas supply.

In assessing the availability of agricultural inputs for the 2024 Kharif crops, officials during FCA meeting note that canal water availability stands at 63.61 million acre-feet (MAF), up from 61.85 MAF last year. Currently, all provinces report satisfactory supplies. The Meteorological Department predicts normal to slightly above normal precipitation from April to June, particularly in upper Punjab from May to July, with above-normal levels likely in August and September. Pakistan's monsoon season typically sees an area-weighted normal rainfall of 140.8 mm, ensuring sufficient water for irrigation and power sectors.

The Director General (FSC&RD) assures the availability of Rice, Maize, Sesam, and Mung Bean seeds as needed. The State Bank of Pakistan reports a substantial increase in institutional credit allocations for agriculture to Rs.2250 billion for 2023-24, with disbursements reaching Rs1073.5 billion by February 2023, 59 percent of the annual target and 28.5 percent higher than last year's disbursement.

Senior officers from the Ministry of National Food Security & Research were joined by representatives from Provincial Agriculture Departments, State Bank of Pakistan, ZTBL, National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC), Pakistan Meteorological Department, Indus River System Authority, and the Food Security & Climate Change member of the Planning Commission of Pakistan at the meeting.