Tuesday February 07, 2023

Decline in cotton sowing feared

By Our Correspondent
June 03, 2021

MULTAN: Cotton prospects for 2021-22 season presents a gloomy picture and it is feared that growers will sow cotton on lesser area. According to experts the province would get 50 per cent less cotton crop in comparison to last year due to farmers’ aversions.

From chats with small and big cotton growers, it has been gleaned that lesser sowing of cotton is because of pessimistic policies of the authorities towards the cash crop, poor seed varieties, highly costly inputs and preference to sugarcane crop.

Talking to reporters, growers said that Bt cotton really disappointed them and they were facing huge losses after sowing the most propagated Bt varieties. Talking to reporters, Javed Khan, a grower from Mailsi, said he had sown Bt varieties over 150 acre land and faced loss of over Rs 20 million. He said now he had abandoned the idea of sowing cotton.

Representatives of seed companies and cottonseed merchants were of the view that only 50 per cent seed stock was sold during the current crop season. Agriculture scientist Nawaz Painda said cotton has vanished from the areas known for high yield including Vehari, Garh Mor, Katcha Kho, Mian Channu where water scarcity is a dominating factor and growers have no choice to cultivate alternate crops like maize and paddy, which require continuous watering.

The same situation unfortunately has gripped in other areas of southern Punjab. He said the growers were facing huge losses since the increase in cost of production in the past couple of two and a half years and the cash crop has become a bad bargain. He said price-hike of fertilizers also a factor in the disappointment of cotton growers.

Nawaz Painda said mostly cotton was produced in central areas of the Punjab including Multan, Khanewal, Vehari, Lodhran, Bahawal Nagar, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Sahiwal and Rahim Yar Khan districts whereas Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Bhakkar, Mianwali, Kasur, Okara and Pakpattan districts have second level in cotton production.

The field surveys have revealed that cotton has covered little areas in those districts, he maintained. Pakistan Kissan Board ex-south Punjab president Hafiz Hussein Ahmed said poor sowing is because of less control of the authorities on prices of seeds and fertilizers.

South Punjab Agriculture secretary Saqib Ali Ateel said the department has achieved an 85 per cent target of cotton sowing compared to last year and they were hopeful of achieving the rest of the sowing area.

The total Punjab cotton sowing target is four million acres and the province has achieved more than three million acres of cotton sowing area, he maintained. A spokesperson for Punjab Agriculture Department said the government has set a target of cultivating cotton on about four million acres of land in the province which the department was working hard to ensure. He said the department was expecting achievement of the sowing target. The government is providing subsidies to cotton growers on approved varieties of cotton like IUB-2013, FH-142, BS-15, MNH-886, Niab-878.

In this regard, a subsidy of Rs 1,000 per bag would be given to the growers. The subsidy can be availed by farmers of Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Faisalabad division, Mianwali and Bhakkar districts, he added.