By admin       2017-09-07

The current year has been disappointing for cotton producers as the cost of cultivation has increased manifold compared to the previous years, industry officials said. Growers blame the government for failing to keep check and balance on suppliers of seed, fertiliser and pesticides, as well as for delaying the announcement of the necessary support price. Reports gathered from different cotton-cultivated areas show that farmers are worried due to inadequate water, pests, and ‘sucking complex’ attack on Bt cotton crops in many areas of Sindh. Some farmers claimed to have sprayed pesticides six-seven times, but the insects persisted. They doubt the authenticity of the pesticides. Cotton crops should be sprayed two-three times at a certain threshold, but this year, due to the intensity of the pest attack, they applied the chemicals six-seven times to save the crop. However, their efforts seem to have been in vain. Cotton picking of earlier sown crops has started, and the effects of water shortage were beginning to show. In many areas, farmers failed to cultivate cotton on a single acre of land due to water scarcity. The official target of cultivation was set around 660,000 hectares, but the progress proved low in terms of cultivation. Sindh Growers Alliance (SGA) chief Nawab Zubair Talpur said, “We have yet to understand why the government authorities are reluctant to check the supply system of seed, fertilisers and pesticides to ensure authenticity.” He said it was essential for seasonal crops. “I purchased hybrid cotton seed, investing Rs8,000 per acre cost, following the advice of dealers. It was for the first time that I bought the new seed variety for my field. But after sowing I witnessed that it does not give enough yield,” Talpur added. It is a common phenomenon in Sindh, and SGA has received information that growers were in trouble due to fake seeds, fertiliser, and pesticides. “We informed Sindh agriculture minister at the recent meeting and demanded for action against dealers, who are supplying fake inputs to the growers,” he said. Some growers believe that the main reason for the slow sowing pace was the shortage of canal water. Cotton sowing begins mid of March and April to June, but persistent water shortage in canals caused disruption of the process, which ends in May and June. Picking was in full swing in many areas, where farmers luckily had sown seed earlier. Reports revealed that the recent heavy rains in the province were also affecting the picking process, further inflicting losses on farmers. A small number of growers, who used indigenous varieties like sadori, qalandari, rehmani, Shahkar, jeay shah, cris-134, Sindh1, etc, believe these varieties were not very productive either. The procurement price of cotton was another factor that disappointed growers. Moreover, the support price of cotton has not been fixed yet. Earlier, the price went to touch Rs3,500 per maund, but now even the traders has been reluctant in buying, and only offered Rs2,200 per maund, which beyond doubt was low compared to the cultivation cost. Justifying the low price, traders said that ginning factories were reluctant to buy cotton at this stage because of the monsoon rains, and fear of low quality product. “Since the weather is uncertain this year, the cotton producers are facing problems due to low price,” traders said. Growers have spent more than Rs40,000 on cultivation, including tractor use, seed, fertiliser, pesticides and diesel for operating the tube wells for irrigation. The farmers demand to have a support price of at least Rs3,500 per maund. It could be the only way to lessen the burden of the cultivation cost.

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