Agri Forum Pakistan (AFP) has alleged that cotton growers this year will suffer a collective loss of Rs 187 billion as they are getting on average Rs 1950 per maund for their produce instead of Rs 3119 per maund suggested by the Punjab government as support price for cotton in March this year.
Forum’s Chairman Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal while talking to a select group of journalists here on Wednesday said that cotton was sown on 5.8 million acres in Punjab and 7.2 million acres through out the country. He stated that the provincial government has set a target of 15 million bales but feared that production might remain around 13.5 million bales due to reduction in area under cotton.
He said during the month of March this year Punjab Agriculture Department proposed fixing the cotton support price at Rs 3119 per maund, which was yet not announced. He said according to information collected by the members of the Agri Forum from 13 core cotton growing districts, growers are fetching an average price of Rs 1950 per maund.
Mughal said that if a cotton grower gets Rs 1950 per maund against the proposed support price of Rs 1950 per maund then it would suffer a loss of Rs 1169 per maund and collectively farmers of 28 cotton growing districts of Pakistan would suffer a loss of Rs 187 billion. He said that basic reason of this loss is hike in the prices of fertiliser, diesel, electricity, seed and pesticides.
He said that in such a situation and after facing huge losses farmers would not be able to sow next crops including wheat, canola, grams, sunflower and maize. He said such faulty policies of the government would result in destroying our whole agricultural economy, ruining our fields and increasing imports from India.
Mughal stated that if area under cotton continued to decrease as it has decreased this year ie, only 7.2 million acres were brought under cotton cultivation instead of 8 million acres then it would hurt our cotton and textile industry and enhance unemployment. He also questioned that how could we maintain share of textile 60 percent in our exports if this trend continues?
It would enhance the gap between imports and exports. It would make importing lobbies happier, satisfy the commission mafia in Islamabad and increase poverty in rural areas. Ibrahim Mughal stated that the Punjab government had proposed Rs 3119 per maund when the diesel prices were at Rs 92 per litre while they are now a days hovering around Rs 114 per litre. He said that farmers were already getting diesel and DAP fertilisers on more than international prices.
He was also very critical of performance of the Punjab Agriculture Minister Ahmad Ali Aulakh and said that guy had failed to contest the case of Punjab agriculture and growers. Wrapping his discussion he said that the Federal government should mobilise the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), which should immediately start buying the cotton to stabilise its prices in the benefit of the growers.