LAHORE: The government on Tuesday set the cotton production target for the next season at 14.101 million bales after betting on its plans to improve the output, which is on the downward trend during the current year owing to pest attacks and rainfalls.
The government aimed at 15.49 million cotton bales in the beginning of the current season, but it had to scale down the targets at least three times after the heavy rains and pest attacks damaged the crop.
The cotton production declined 33.62 percent to 9.687 million bales during this season to February 15.
The federal committee on cotton (FCC) fixed the cotton production target from 3.009 million hectares across the country for the fiscal year of 2016/17.
The 5th FCC meeting, held at the Ministry of Textile Industry, set the cotton production target of 9.50 million bales for the Punjab, 4.50 million bales for Sindh, 0.098 million bales for Balochistan and 0.003 million bales for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Secretary Amir Marwat of the Ministry of Textile Industry told the participants to devise strategies to improve cotton production in the coming season. He urged them to develop coordinated strategies along with all the stakeholders, organise awareness-building seminars for the farmers and enhance their capacity about best crop management practices.
He said the government provided several support schemes to the cotton growers and the textile industry to enable them to complete with regional competitors.
Cotton Commissioner Khalid Abdullah of textile ministry said cotton crop was badly hit due to torrential and prolonged rains especially during month of June-August.
Commissioner Abdullah said besides lower cotton prices and high inputs cost dampened farmers’ interest in spending more on the already damaged crop. “This situation resulted in flaring up of cotton pests, especially Pink bollworm, Armyworm and other pests which also damaged cotton crop substantially,” he added.
A representative of the Pakistan Meteorological Department said the forthcoming cotton season will receive normal rainfall. “However, 20-25 percent above normal rainfall with a 0.8 C rise in temperature is expected during March to May,” said the representative.
An official of the Indus River System Authority said around 28 to 30 million acres feet water will be available in water reservoirs for the coming crop season. The official forecast five percent shortfall in canal irrigation water during the season.
An official of the National Fertilizer Development Corporation said there will be no shortage of urea fertiliser during the season. The fertiliser industry will receive additional gas due to provision of liquefied natural gas to power plants and the industry will produce more fertiliser at cheaper rates.
A State Bank of Pakistan’s executive said the central bank fixed the agriculture credit target of Rs600 billion. The executive said Zarai Taraqiati Bank will disburse Rs95 billion loans for agriculture sector, including Rs13 to 15 billion for cotton sector.
A representative from Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department said around 25,000 metric tons (60 percent) of certified seed will be available up to 2nd week of March.
The Director General Agriculture (Extension) Punjab said a total of Rs.12.98 billion was disbursed to 547,000 cotton farmers, whose crop was affected by heavy rains/floods under the Prime Minister Relief Package during the 2015/16 fiscal year. He said more incentives may be announced for the farmers during the coming season to maintain cotton acreage.
The meeting was told that seed companies, selling fake seeds, must be de-registered and only quality seed producing companies should be allowed to run the business.