Friday June 21, 2024

Govt revises down cotton forecast by 600,000 bales

By Salman Siddiqui
December 18, 2015

Output  to remain at 10.8 million bales

KARACHI:  Damages from the pest attack and viruses on the cotton in Punjab are likely to be extensive as the government has again revised its crop estimate by over half a million bales, officials said on Thursday.

The latest estimate suggests the crop size will not exceed 10.8 million bales (of 170 kilogram) from 11.4 million bales forecasted last month. The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC), in a meeting held earlier this week, sees additional shortfall of 600,000 bales this crop season.

The government has so far revised down its crop estimate almost by 30 percent this year from an initial target of 15.4 million bales set in February. Local cotton demand is estimated at 15.5 million bales this year.

 “The latest assessment was made in the absence of new production estimates from Punjab where the pest attack and attack of different viruses have significantly damaged the crop,” said an official of CCAC. "The major setback to cotton crop came from climate change.

Multan, Lodhran, Vehari, Khanewal, Pakpattan, Sahiwal, Layyah, and Rahim Yar Khan were the worst affected areas in Punjab. The viruses that attacked the crop this year were pink bollworm, cotton leaf curl virus, and whitefly.

The official said the early monsoon rains in Punjab caused havoc.   “The rain continued even though they should have stopped, which caused damage to the crop," the official said. "May and June are the months when crop grows and get matured, but continuous rains and pest attacks did not allow cotton flower to grow up."

The official said farmers used extensive pesticides this season to beat pest attack following heavy rains 

The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, in its last fortnightly production report, said production in the first six months (June-November) remained at 7.87 million bales, which were almost 29 percent less than 11.07 million bales in the same period last year.

Traders believe production would fall further.

"Our estimate for the current crop size is 10 million bales," said Naseem Usman, a broker at Karachi Cotton Exchange. “The government knows actual production estimates, but it is gradually revising down just to ease any panic like situation amongst textile mill owners."

Usman said mill owners have already booked cargoes of around 2.1 million bales on reports of bad crop this season. They are buying cotton from India, Brazil US and South Africa.

"We expect that textile mills would import at least 2.5 million bales this year," he said.

Shahzad Ali Khan, chairman at Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, said the 1,200 ginning factories in Pakistan will face financial issues due to crop damage. "Low production of phutti has halved workload at factories. The halved work is only allowing factories to operate at break-even level," Khan said.