Punjab cultivates cotton on 6 million acres, harvesting around 10 million bales. Its plan is to revive its cotton area and production to its historical level this season seems to be declining. During the last few years, the acreage has dropped drastically and hit a low of 4.3 million acres. Last year production fell to 6.9 million bales.
Punjab made a significant effort to restore the crop output to the previous record level in a single year. There was the price recovery of around 25 percent over the last year and a plan to combat the pink bollworm attack on the crop. The province banned sowing before April 15 in order to break the life cycle of the pest.
The climate has always been of pivotal importance to cotton, has started becoming unfriendly even before sowing. The water shortage is making sowing even harder.
According to the Indus River System Authority, the current shortages are over 40 percent and would continue right up to April 15 before they start declining slowly.
The climate change is unparallel. The usual March temperatures are away; first half of the month brought a cold wave like February, and its last two weeks had high temperatures.
First two weeks of April are going to be unusual for water shortages. Both dams hit the dead level on March 10, leaving the entire irrigation requirements to run off the river supplies.
The layout is thus menacing the official revival plans. The farmers and planners now believe that the province would miss the acreage target by a huge margin.
Land gone to crops like cane around 2 million acres is padlocked for the next three years and cannot be brought back unmindful of any motivation.
COTTON PRODUCTION NEW TARGET
Cotton production is built on the results of numerous factors like seed, management, pest control, weather and marketing. In this context planning and projecting production on rigorous pest control or price factor hardly makes sense. The targets are kept high to gear efforts for better outputs.
Realizing the facts mentioned above the government has revised downward the cotton production target and set it at 14.04 million bales for 2017-18, after missing the production target of 14.1 million bales for 2016-17 by around 25 percent.
Pakistan has missed the cotton production target by around 25 percent as the production has been recorded at 10.6 million bales against the set target of 14.1 million bales for 2016-17.
Nevertheless the number surpassed the cotton production of 9.7 million bales recorded during the same period of the last fiscal year 2015-16.
The sixth meeting of the Federal Committee on Cotton (FCC) was held under the chairmanship of Cotton Commissioner Ministry of Textile Industry Dr Khalid Abdullah where the committee unanimously agreed to fix the cotton area and production target for the year 2017 as Punjab will have to cover 2.429 million hectares to produce 10 million cotton bales
Sindh will have to cover 0.650 million hectares to produce 4 million cotton bales. Balochistan will have to cover 0.038 million hectares and produce 0.038 million bales and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have to sow cotton on 0.001 million hectares to produce 0.002 million bales of cotton.
The representative from Meteorological Department informed the participants that below normal rainfall are anticipated in the cotton belt during March to May 2017.
The SBP has also launched a Mandatory Crop Insurance Policy for five major crops including wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton and maize.
The representative from ZTBL stated that financing for cotton crop-specific loans have been targeted at 60 percent of the total loan disbursement by the bank.
The representative of FSCRD stated that 38,000 metric tons seed of cotton certified and approved will be available against the requirement of 40,000 metric tons during the season 2017-18. There will be no shortage of quality seed.
The cotton commissioner urged the representative to direct all seed dealers to market cotton seed as per standard germination of 75 percent and there should be no comprise on standard. He further stated that since there is almost 100 percent availability of certified seeds, therefore, a campaign should be launched for sowing of only certified seeds.
The representative from the Federal Plant Protection Department stated that sufficient quantity of pesticides is in the import process.
The farmers’ members stressed upon the availability of irrigation water and stated that since the Punjab government has banned cotton sowing before April 15, therefore, the farmers would have only 30 days period (April 15 to May 15) left for sowing cotton crop.
Therefore, during this period, the government should ensure supply of irrigation water to the farmers so that the cotton is sown as planned.
The farmers’ members also urged the government to announce the support price for cotton crop to encourage the farmers for enhancing cotton acreage.
There is need to devise strategies to improve cotton production in the coming season. The cotton producers should develop coordinated strategies along with all the stakeholders.
They should organize awareness-building seminars for the farmers and enhance their capacity about best crop management practices.
The government has provided several support schemes to the cotton growers and the textile industry to enable them to complete with regional competitors.
There will be no shortage of urea fertilizer during the season. The fertilizer industry will receive additional gas due to provision of liquefied natural gas to power plants and the industry will produce more fertilizer at cheaper rates.
A State Bank of Pakistan’s executive said the central bank fixed the agriculture credit target of Rs600 billion.
Zarai Taraqiati Bank will disburse Rs95 billion loans for agriculture sector, including Rs13 to 15 billion for cotton sector.