Cotton Production in Pakistan

ottonProduction in Pakistan

Almightly Allah blessedPakistan with extraordinary cotton crop in 2011-12. Despite of floods andsevere rains in Punjab and Sindh, the production remained as high as 13.3 millionbales (170kg each), 5% more than the last assessment of 12.59 million bales byCotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC). The high production is mainlyattributed to extraordinary high cotton prices during 2010-11, that became asource of inspiration for high input usage, and better management of the crop.Nature favored with low Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) disease and mealy bugincidence. Although floods took a toll of about 2-2.5 million bales but thecountry managed to sustain a reasonably good cotton production. Deterioratedquality due to non-stop rains during boll opening stage of the cotton and highproduction affected the market badly. Farmers expecting last year’s high priceshave to face entirely different situation.

The last year’s productionremained a source for projecting next year’s crop volume and some exaggeratedfigures are being quoted by different economic analytical forums without evaluatingthe picture holistically. A report published in April 2012, by GlobalAgriculture Information Network (GAIN), under Foreign Agriculture Services andUnited Agriculture Department of Agriculture projected Pakistan’s cottonproduction for the year 2012-13 as 10% increase in area and production. Theauthor forecasted the Pakistan’s cotton cultivation on 3.3 million ha andproduction as 11million bales (480 lbs per bale) equivalent to 14.1 millionbales (170 kg). The report also stated that GOP has approved 11 biotech and 3non-biotech cotton varieties for general cultivation in the country. The reportapparently is not based on any authentic source or data. Such premature projectionsmay damage the cotton market, shake investor’s confidence create bias estimatesof global cotton stocks. Ministry of Textile Industry can not endorse suchreports.

Looking at the groundrealities, the Government of Punjab has approved 8 and not 11 new biotech and 6(not 3) non biotech varieties. The biotech varieties approved are with Mon 531gene for commercial cultivation in the province subjected to thecommercialization authentication from the National Bio-safety Committee. Theauthentication is still awaited.

Early sowing in Punjab,being the main cotton belt, has achieved 21% less than last year, whereas, inSindh sowing is 2% lagging behind the area sown in the same period in 2011-12.The Indus River System Authority has already declared the water shortage by 21%till the end of June 2012. The availability of certified seed of approvedcotton varieties is not as much as last year. The prevalence of CLCV is uncertain and if weather becomes favorable toCLCV, the disease can outbreak and cause damage. Fertilizer availability willremain satisfactory; however pesticides availability could become an issue as APTACmeeting has not been convened for more than 2 years due to shifting the subjectin different ministries after the devolution of ministry of Food Agriculture. Afterevaluating all factors, and not being pessimistic, achieving the last years’target seems a difficult task.

After the defunct FederalCommittee on Agriculture (FCA) of the devolved Ministry of Food andAgriculture, the targets of any crop commodity are not officially fixed, ratherprovinces use their last year’s achievements as target of the next year.However, for cotton, Ministry of Textile Industry planning to constitute acommittee to fix targets by consulting all provinces and relevant stakeholdersand continue the crop volume estimation during the season so that an unbiased, authenticdata, based on relevant facts and realities could be publically available.