Why cotton production is on the decline in Pakistan?

Cotton cultivation area has fallen  nearly 12% in last five years

Cotton has been the major crop of South Punjab region. But the production of cotton in south Punjab districts has been on the decline in last one decade. Pakistan missed the cotton production target in 2019-20 seasons. The situation is not different in the current 2020-21 season.

A decline in cotton cultivation area during the last couple of years, denial of reasonable return to farmers, use of poor seeds and pesticides coupled with harsh weather and pest attacks has taken its toll on the cotton crop.

Cotton production fell by 20.26 per cent to 8.303 million bales till Jan 15 this season against 10.456 million bales in the same period last year, the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) said on Saturday.

In its fortnightly report, the PCGA noted that the production of cotton bales went down by 2.119 million in the current season. The country is likely to miss the target of 9 million bales. According to the PCGA figures till Jan 15, Punjab suffered cotton production losses by up to 22.99%, followed by Sindh with 16.09.

Punjab produced 4.859 million bales against last year’s 6.325 million bales, highlighting a shortfall of 1.454 million bales. Sindh produced 3.467 million bales against last year’s 4.139 million bales, with a shortfall of 0.665 million bales. Till January 15, ginning factories produced 8.22 million bales during the current season. Textile sector and exporters purchased 7.34 million bales and 55,984 bales, respectively

Total 232 factories remained functional in Sindh and Punjab. Of these, 208 units are in Punjab where 4.765 million bales were produced.

Growers and ginners held the government policies responsible for crop failure and unabated decline in the under-cultivation area and production. Cotton was major and cash crop but growers were unable to get a favorable environment to grow and pick their crop after investing heavy money. The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association’s statistics also confirmed decline in production.

The country had imported wheat and sugar this year and now it was feared that the country would have to import cotton this year to meet textile demands. Pakistan used to export 2-2.5 million bales but now the country will import at least 4.5 million bales to meet demand. This situation has happened because the farming sector has been overlooked for years by the policymakers

In Punjab, only two districts, Layyah 35.4 % and Mianwali 100%, were showing increase in production. The rest of the districts were showing shortfall in production, which include Multan 12.2%.

Lodhran 72.28 %, Khanewal 50.78%, Muzaffargarh 0.30%, Dera Ghazi Khan 47.5%, Rajanpur 75.4%, Vehari 48.85%, Sahiwal 31.89%, Pakpattan 81.18%, Okara 100%, Toba Tek Singh 25.7%, Faisalabad 27.54%, Jhang 16.56%, Bhakkar 100%, Rahimyar Khan 90.57%, Bahawalpur 75.18 % and Bahawalnagar 35.85%.

In Sindh, only Naushero Feroz district had increased crop size to 15.17%. The rest of others had lost production. PCGA ex-chairman Sohail Mehmood said that unfortunately growers were not provided good quality seed and pesticides to kill pests attack crop at massive level particularly in the South Punjab.

The continuous dismal situation had forced growers to divert other crops, which resulted under cultivation area went reduced, he lamented. Meanwhile, the PCGA statistics said that the ginning factories in Punjab received 334,863 bales as compared to the same corresponding period of last year when Punjab ginning factories had received 598,314 bales.

Pakistan is the fifth-largest cotton producer in the world and cotton products account for more than 50 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings of the country. However, the quality of cottonseed is comparatively overlooked as fiber yield and quality of cotton production are not considered though these are of prime importance to fetch high prices in the market.

Pakistan was short of more than six million bales from the target for the 2019-20 which is equal to a financial loss of $6 billion. The area under cultivation has fallen by 12% in the last five years. During 2019-20, an area of 2.5 million hectares was cultivated against the target of 2.9 million hectares with the hope of production of 12.72 million bales in the coming season.

The farmers are replacing area under cotton cultivation with sugarcane and rice for better incentives, especially in Punjab which contributes 65% of the total cotton area. The government is providing support to farmers involved in the production of wheat (Rs 19.3 billion), rice (Rs 11.4 billion), and sugarcane (Rs 4 billion) but the cotton crop is neglected.

There are 95 sugar mills functional in the country and 40 are owned by politicians. In order to meet the demands of the increasing number of sugar mills in Punjab, sugarcane cultivation is being promoted despite the heavy water requirement compared to cotton which needs less irrigation. Due to excessive production of sugarcane in Punjab’s cotton zone, high relative humidity is created which is the main culprit that promotes pest attacks on the cotton crop in the region.

Another reason is the quality of seeds. Mostly BT cotton is cultivated across the country, which is based on outdated first-generation BT technology against which insects have developed resistance. According to the 2019-20 report from the Punjab Agricultural Extension department, more than 80% area of districts Multan, Vehari and Bahawalpur were infected with pink boll worm. For the last three years, the attack of pink boll worm, along with mealy bug. 

                                                                          Khalid Bhatti

1 comment:

  1. Very valid rasos as u mentioned , sugar Mills in cotton área, poor quality of seed & pesticide.


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