Decline in cotton production

Why cotton productions continue to fall in Pakistan?

Pakistan was used to be an agricultural country. Its economy was mostly dependent on the agriculture products. With passage of time- the share of agriculture in Pakistani GDP fell from more than 70% to under 19%. Cotton was Pakistan’s main product and backbone of Pakistani textile industry. But the production of cotton started to fall in last few years. From cotton exporting country Pakistan has become importer of cotton in recent years.
The main reason seems to be the increased cultivation of sugarcane in the cotton belt. South Punjab districts produce the most of the cotton. A consistent fall in cotton cultivation area for the last seven years has eventually reduced crop production to little over 10 million bales this year from the bumper crop of 15m bales in 2011-12.
In 2011-12- almost 09 million acres were under cotton cultivation in Pakistan. The sowing area steeply declined to 5.9m acres in 2018-19 as opposed to government estimates of 7.3m acres. But no concrete action or steps were taken by PML-N government and then PTI government.  No serious attempt was made to address the falling production of cotton. The net result is that now the country relies on imported cotton to meet local demand.

Over the past few years, growers shifted from cotton to sugarcane due to various reasons — the most prominent being the political clout wielded by the sugar industry. Furthermore, growers preferred sugarcane as it is a less labour-intensive crop and the plant root stays for a minimum of three crops.
Pakistan is again going to miss the target of cotton production. Cotton arrivals in the factories have recorded a decline of 21 percent till December 31, pointed out a report. This decline in production is likely impacted by heavy monsoons and pest invasions.
According to fortnightly cotton arrivals report of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, cotton arrivals in factories were down 20.77 percent at 8.13 million bales, compared with 10.27 million bales during the same period last year.
Fortnightly inflow in factories (December 16-31) was recorded at 278,288 bales, down 10.58 bales against 311,209 bales during the second half of December 2018.
Stakeholders said Pakistan needed to import around 6.0 million bales to meet its consumption demand, as cotton production was estimated at 10 million bales against consumption requirement of 16 million bales. The country would have to pay around $1.5 billion as import bill against cotton.

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