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June 11, 2021

Food ministry for cotton support price at Rs5,000 per 40kg

LAHORE: Food security ministry on Thursday agreed to cotton support price at Rs5,000 per 40kg and decided to put it forward for approval.

This was informed in a meeting on Thursday under the chairmanship of Minister for Food Security Fakhar Imam. The meeting was also attended by heads of Trading Corporation of Pakistan, Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation, and Pakistan Kissan Ittehad and growers. Imam said this is the first time that a minimum support price for cotton will be specified. The time to support cotton should have been earlier when cotton was sowed but at the moment, plant protection can and will be given priority. “Whoever has a single bail to sell should be accommodated by the ginning factories to avoid cartelization,” he was quoted as saying.

The minister said cotton has been strategically put back though cotton is above other crops for the economy.

Growers termed the support price fixation a belated decision given the fact that optimum time of cotton sowing has already been passed. Had the government been able to announce it a month earlier, it would have been a relatively far better-timed intervention, said growers.

The optimum time for cotton sowing is stated to be one of the most important factors impacting yield and stability of the plants. In Punjab, optimum time for sowing has been considered between April 15 to end May while in Sindh, sowing should be completed by May 15 with potential of a good crop. This year, unexpected water shortage has hampered sowing of cotton in both provinces coupled with less interest shown by the growers due to failure of last year's crop and lack of any incentive in planting cotton. According to latest official plantation figures, there has been 21.6 percent less area under cotton cultivation in the country against the official target while 15.2 percent less sowing has been recorded if compared with the last year's figures of corresponding period. In Punjab, against the target of 1.61 million hectares, sowing could be completed at 1.3 million hectares till June 3, which is 81 percent of the target and 11 percent less than the last year's cultivated area on the same date.

In Sindh, against a sowing target of 0.64 million hectares of land, cultivation on 0.460 million hectares or 72 percent could be completed till May 28. Last year, cotton plantation at 0.615 acres of land had been completed during the corresponding period, which is 25.2 percent more than this year's level.

Pakistan is short of cotton sowing target by more than one-fifth. However, announcement about the determination of cotton support price may trigger some interest among the farmers with increase in area under crop. However, farmers have been left with no time for cultivation of cotton as the plant needs to be stable before onset of Monsoon rains, said experts.

Farmer representatives demanded Rs5,500 per 40 kg fixation of cotton support price for the year 2021-2022. In Thursday's meeting, it was announced that the minimum support price of cotton will be introduced soon. However, if opposition by the powerful textile lobby failed to stop this move, still the procedural requirements may delay it for a few weeks.

Khalid Khokhar, president of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad said the government should take every step for the formal announcement of cotton support price as soon as possible. He was of the view that this intervention would enable farmers to invest more on agronomy and plant protection with a view to increasing per acre yield to great extent. He hailed the government's pro-farmer intervention and termed it a good omen for the growth of the agriculture sector in the country.