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Business

May 20, 2017

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Lack of planning, water shortage hit cotton sowing

Lack of planning, water shortage hit cotton sowing

LAHORE: Lack of planning and coordination among government departments, and severe water shortage have hit cotton sowing in the country, sparking fear of low production due to lower acreage, official sources said on Friday.

As of May 12, 2017, cotton sowing could be completed only on 1.42 million hectares in the country out of the targeted 3.11 million hectares, showing only 45 per cent of sowing if compared with the target.

Despite aggressive campaign run by the Punjab Agriculture Department for encouraging farmers to sow cotton in the province, less than fifty per cent of the targeted area could be brought under cultivation as optimum time of plantation is about to end.

As many as 1.18 million hectares could be sown with cotton seeds in Punjab province till May 12 out of the target of 2.42 million hectares, only 48 per cent of the target.

More worryingly, Sindh's cotton was hit hardest due to acute shortage of water, as farmers sowed only 36 percent of the targeted area. Cotton could be cultivated only on 0.237 million hectares of land out of the total target area of 0.65 million hectares.

In Mirpurkhas division, only 40 per cent of cotton crop has been sown up to May 5, as compared to 75 per cent last year. In Hyderabad Division, 35 per cent of the target has been sown as compared to 60 per cent last year. Cotton sowing did not start in Sukkur division until May 5, 2017.

Water availability during crucial months of April and May has been very low in Sindh due to abysmally low flows of River Indus and bad coordination among provincial departments, Ministry of Textile and Indus River System Authority (IRSA) about efficiently managing available water, sources claimed.

During kharif, Sindh requires water earlier when compared with the northern areas of the country, as cotton sowing starts in April. However, this year, water availability did not pick as per requirement. Areas fed from Sukkur Barrage faced major brunt of the lingering water shortage, hitting farmers hard.

In yet another upsetting development, sources said, Punjab Irrigation Department has plainly refused to ensure provision of water for cotton sowing in the province, saying they were not consulted by Punjab Agriculture Department before imposing ban on early sowing of cotton.

“It is not possible to provide water for irrigating such a huge area in a short span of time,” a senior official said, blaming officials of the agriculture department for not coordinating with them in a timely manner.

There is a deafening silence as far as the Cotton Division of the Ministry of Textiles is concerned. Dr Khalid Abdullah, cotton commissioner of textile ministry, was tight lipped over the state of cotton sowing in the country.

Sources claimed that his division could not take up proper measures for coordinating between the departments concerned. Cotton commissioner, who is responsible for all matters pertaining to cotton in the country, failed to coordinate among various cotton related wings of different ministries/divisions, provinces, and stakeholders associations, it was alleged.

When contacted, he did not respond to queries about cotton outlook 2017. Despite repeated contacts, spokesman of Punjab Agriculture Department was not available for comment.

Farooq Bajwa of Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) expressed serious reservations about the role of government departments in facilitating farmers in cotton sowing. He lamented that due to wrong policies of government, cotton was fast losing its status of preferred choice for farmers during kharif in southern Punjab. He also castigated officials concerned for not ensuring water supply for cotton sowing.

 

 

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