By admin       2017-03-27

March 27th, 2017 - Having failed to achieve cotton sowing targets for the past few years, Sindh’s agriculture department estimates that 650,000ha may be brought under cotton cultivation this year. The last season’s cultivation target was 660,000ha. However, the Multan-based Pakistan Central Cotton Committee’s Director Dr Mohammad Ali Talpur says last year’s provincial target is likely to remain unchanged. He, says, Sindh’s cotton sector has performed better and its per-acre yield is higher compared to Punjab. He admitted that the province’s cotton producers did briefly face price issues but, given the average yield, they still ended-up managing their crop economy. “Since farmers faced problems in the sugarcane crop, they will certainly maintain or add to last year’s cotton cultivation level now, expecting a better price” Sindh agriculture officials and cotton growers agree that the acreage may increase owing to the crop current price of average Rs3000/40kg. Progressive cotton growers like Nadeem Shah and Mahmood Nawaz Shah feel that the cotton acreage would increase. “Since farmers faced problems in sugarcane crop this season, they will certainly maintain or add to last year’s cotton cultivation level now, expecting a better price”, Mahmood Nawaz Shah stated. Agriculture officials are worried about adequate availability of quality seeds while the concerned seed regulation body has yet to assert itself to check the sale of substandard variety in the market. Punjab-based companies are selling mixed seed in place of Bt cotton seed which is being excessively used in the province by growers but they end up complaining about lower per acre yield. Federal Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah agrees that lack of quality seeds does hamper growth in Sindh’s seed cotton productivity yet its cotton production has remained consistent despite all negative trends. On the other hand, Punjab has lost cotton growing area from 2.5m ha to 1.7m ha owing to pink bollworm attack. He observed that the federal bodies are working on proposals of meeting challenges facing cotton as it contributes enormously to the national economy. Sindh’s cotton growers said the government should look into why the Bt variety is now prone to pest attacks which forces growers to invest more and more in pesticides. Thus, the threat to cotton still looms large despite last year’s edge in price, he added. Dr Talpur expects the cotton market to witness a steep rise in prices as China’s cotton stocks will deplete and its imports will rise. He said cotton’s demand in market has increased with lower production. He said last year Sindh produced 3.6m bales against the target of 4.5m bales, but the actual phutti production must have been no less than ‘4m bales. Sindh’s early crop is purchased by Punjab’s ginners from Sanghar, amounting to at least 0.4m bales and is counted in Punjab’s ginning factories’ production and supplies.

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