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December 8, 2015

Climate change dents cotton output in Punjab


December 8, 2015

LAHORE: Climate change has officially been blamed for the first time for triggering abnormal temperature rise and untimely rains in main cotton growing belt this year that leads to about 30 per cent estimated dent in its production against the target, especially in the Punjab province, officials said on Monday.
Abnormalities in weather like heavy rains and harsh temperatures are being blamed mainly for loss in cotton production while associated pests attack and diseases and poor seed quality have also been attributed for the decline in output.
Climate change related event like damage due to rains have topped the list as number of rainy days increased this year significantly in the cotton sowing areas of Punjab province, while Sindh province has largely remain unaffected from this menace, as per assessment of Cotton Wing, federal Ministry of Textile Industry.
Moreover, during Jan-Oct 2015 around 373mm rain was recorded in Multan, which happened to be main hub of cotton sowing in the country.
In fact, since 2010, a rising tendency of greater rainfall in the area becomes a new normal.
According to statistics compiled by Suparco, Multan received far greater amount of rain during June to August this year if compared with corresponding period of 2014.
As many as five-time increase has been witnessed in intensity of rain in June this year if compared with data of previous year, while two-time and three-time jump was witnessed in months of July and August in Multan, which is alarming.
Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and DG Khan have even seen worst abnormality of rains during these months. Bahawalpur received 106mm, 133mm and 86mm of rainfall during June, July and August respectively against just 0.1mm, 18mm, and 4.1mm rain recorded in the corresponding period of 2014. Similarly, increase in minimum and maximum temperature has also been witnessed.
Besides damaging growth of plants and inflicting physical damage, excessive rains and

moisture level and hot weather are detrimental to the growth of cotton plant as it always invites pest attack.
Owing to fluctuating weather, damage by pink bollworm, white fly and aphid were observed more than normal levels.
It is first declaration made officially about climate change related such a huge negative impact on crop.
Earlier, weather related events were blamed in isolation and official circles refrained themselves from linking it with climate change. Pakistan has been rated among the top 10 most vulnerable countries as far as adverse effects of climate change is concerned.
Among major climate change related concerns posing danger to Pakistan has been increased variability of monsoon, increased risks of extreme events like floods, droughts, cyclones, extreme high/low temperatures etc, and severe water- and heat-stressed conditions in arid and semi-arid regions leading to reduced agricultural productivity.
Impact of climate change on cotton production has been described as events leading to excessive water availability in case of rains/floods and shortage in case of drought that affects yields in both ways.
Higher temperature affects yields and encourages weeds and pest infestation and low soil temperature and/or rains especially at the time of sowing affects germination.
According to Cotton Wing of the ministry, intelligent weather forecast and close coordination with meteorological department should be adopted to minimize threats of climate change.
Moreover, cotton varieties with wide range of adoptability to climatic changes should be given focus by the agricultural scientists.
Crop agronomy should be evolved in accordance with climate change besides ensuring good drainage and handy drainage equipment to offset adverse effects of untimely rains/floods.
It may be noted that the Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) downward revised the estimated cotton target third time to 11.388 million bales against the initial estimate of 15.49 million bales, showing a decline by up to 25.4 per cent.

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