Country’s cotton production declined by 33 percent as 9.48 million bales have been produced in the current season against 14.25 million bales during the same period of last year as abnormal weather, seed quality, pests & disease and low prices have negatively affected cotton production.
Cotton production declined by 44 percent in Punjab and 4 percent in Sindh, Ministry of Textile Industry informed the Senate Standing Committee here on Thursday, which met with Mohsin Aziz in the chair. The committee expressed serious concerns over the abrupt and phenomenal decline in cotton production.
Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah briefing the committee said that Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) has downward revised the cotton estimates to 10.85 million for the current season against the initial estimates of 15.49 million bales. Punjab was projected to produce 10.5 million bales, however after the pink bollworm and whitefly attacks, cotton crop is badly damaged and the projection was revised downward to 7.4 million bales. Sindh was projected to produce 4.4 million; however the projected estimate was revised downward to 3.4 million bales after pink bollworm and whitefly attacks.
Cotton Commissioner said that due to low cotton prices, ie. opening phutti prices remained between Rs 1800 to 2300 per 40kg in the month of August-September. The farmers lost their interest in crop management because they did not foresee any profit from the cotton produce. Damages due to rains coupled with prevailing lower cotton prices & high rates of inputs, farmers lost interest in spending more on already damaged crop Cotton production depends upon the favourable weather conditions, timely availability of inputs (irrigation, fertiliser, agro chemicals, quality seed etc), adequate crop management and sale prices. During the year 2014, cotton production remained 13.48 million bales compared to 12.8 million bales in 2013 with the existing cotton varieties and favourable weather conditions. However, adverse weather conditions was observed in the current season including high temperature, heavy rains and more rainy days (373 mm as compared 143 mm last year) affected plant growth and development, restricted pesticide spray and weed management. Further whitefly infestation remained higher during the months of July-September which is critical fruiting period of cotton.
Cotton Commissioner said pink bollworm severely damaged the crop. The population built up unexpectedly at later stage of the crop and severe boll damage was observed during the months of August-October. He further said that the farmers could not control the infestation by Pink bollworm due to non vigilance of farmers about the extent of pest infestation and unavailability of adequate pesticides. The government had set a target of 15.489 million bales from 3.122 million hectares; however cotton was sown on 2.946 million hectares and missed the target by 0.47 percent.
The committee was also informed about the functions and achievements of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC)’s while saying that researchers have devolved so far 40 cotton varieties, which have proved their worth in the field. Few new varieties are in pipeline and testing trials will be placed before the respective forums for their approval and general cultivation.