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Punjab finds hard to meet cotton production target

November 08, 2018

MULTAN: The Punjab, which contributes major share in cotton production, is finding hard to meet its production target as it faces more than 20 per cent decline in production, affecting the countrywide overall production. Punjab is expected to receive less than 10 million bales behind the production target fixed for cotton season 2018-2019, The News has learnt.

Cotton ginners observed the current shortfall which links to reduction in per acre yield and the other is free travel of Punjab cotton to Sindh. Big buyers from Sindh made deals from south Punjab’s rich production district to compensate their intra-provincial shortfall. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s home district Mianwali stands at top in making deals with the Sindhi buyers.

Cotton business market players said the country requires 10.5 million bales of cotton yearly to meet domestic needs and entertaining textile sector while depreciation in Pak rupees against dollar is feared to increase the import bill with heavy cost.

Talking to The News, ginner Shahzad Ali Khan said Sindh receives fewer crops from expectation in the current season. Traders have purchased cotton from Punjab and hundreds of trucks freely move from Punjab to Sindh without any check. The Sindh government not only increases its revenue from cotton excise and cotton cess duties but also creates crisis-like situation in the province, he added.

He said only 23 per cent picking of cotton was left and the remaining 72 per cent cotton area had produced seven million bales. “Sindh traders have mixed Punjab’s refine cotton with their low quality cotton and earned hundreds of millions from deals while the governance in Punjab remains aloof in preventing free movement of Punjab cotton to Sindh. Now the ginners across Punjab were contacting the cotton-rich production districts to make deals but it was not available,” he added. Cotton growers and ginners said the development of crop directly links to governance affairs. They fear decline in production from the revised production target.

Statistics available with the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association and Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CAC) reports said that the country would have to import cotton bales to meet with domestic needs.

Agriculture officials confided The News that the CAC had revised cotton target to downward to 25 per cent in August last. Earlier, the CAC fixed initial production target at 14.37 million bales but later revised to 10.847 million bales.

Growers and ginners said that less than 10 million bales were expected in the season, which was far behind from revised production target of 10.847 million bales. They observed the cotton shortfall factors continue to survive mainly because of bad governance, which allowed sugar mills to encourage growers shifting from cotton to cane.

Agriculture officials said that three key factors contributed in major shortfall of cash crop. The low production factors included extraordinary shortage of water, increased sugarcane cultivation in cotton areas, delay in harvest of wheat and decline in cotton sowing.

Top cotton producing districts have showed massive decline because of water shortage and farmers were facing critical financial losses mainly because of ill-planning and strategy, said scientific grower Khurshid Khan Kanjoo.