Pakistan: Cotton output below 13pc annual target


KARACHI: The production of cotton remained 13 percent below the set target for the fiscal 2013-14, as farmers preferred to grow other cash crops after they failed to find good price for the commodity last year, experts said on Tuesday.

“Poor water management, pest attacks, rainfall and weather conditions played their due parts in lower production of cotton and higher production of sugarcane, rice, and maize in the current fiscal year,” Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah, vice president of Sindh Abadgar Board, said.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the country is estimated to produce 12.3 million bales of cotton (of 170 kilogram each) in FY14, approximately 13 percent lower than the government target of 14.1 million bales.

The production was even lower than 13.1 million bales produced in the previous fiscal year.

“Agriculture initial estimates suggest a decline in cotton,” the SBP said in its latest report on the state of economy.

Dr Ibrahim Mughal, chairman of Agri Forum of Pakistan, said that the decline in cotton was due to cultivation of the crop at a lesser area this year than the last year. “Lower cultivation was mainly in Punjab,” he said, adding that lower availability of water at the time of sowing also brought down the production.

Accordingly, farmers grew maize, sugarcane and rice instead of cotton at a considerable area of land, he said.

“In the post sowing period (of cotton), conditions were not ideal: germination suffered due to the poor quality seeds, and later, standing crop struggled with pest attacks, rains and high temperatures,” noted the SBP.

The central bank estimated rice production at 6.4 million tons for FY14, which exceeded the target of 6.2 million tons. “A strong recovery in Sindh and Balochistan over the previous year more than offset the lower production in the Punjab.”

Production of Basmati rice, which is mainly grown in Northern Punjab, recorded 15.8 percent increase in FY14 over FY13, reflecting a larger area under cultivation in Gujranwala. “A recovery in basmati production is a good sign for the country’s external sector,” the central bank mentioned.

As far as non-basmati varieties are concerned, despite a lower production in Punjab the overall output rose by 16.1 percent in FY14, led by a sharp recovery in Sindh (particularly in Jacobabad, Kashmore, Shikarpur, Badin and Ghotki) and Balochistan. “Export of these lower value varieties shot up recently due to rising demand in China and Indonesia,” it said.

Moreover, sugarcane continued to benefit from heavier rains, and the crop is expected to record an increase for the fourth consecutive year. The crop benefited from ‘a larger area under cultivation,’ as well as higher yields.