Oct 3 - 9, 20

The recent rainstorm has damaged 1.5 million bales of cotton in Sindh and Punjab, prompting the need for the government to review its textile policy and slap a ban on export of cotton to avert a shortage of raw material for the domestic value added textile industry.

Rains had damaged various crops including cotton to a great extent in Sindh and Southern Punjab.

Cotton was cultivated over 1.8 million acres in Sindh, of which 40 per cent of the crop had been affected by the rains.

The country would miss its cotton production target for the year 2011-12 by about 2-2. 5 million bales because of a massive damage to the crop during the ongoing rains.

The set target of 15 million bales for the current year, according to agricultural experts, is in doldrums because of heavy rains in Sindh and Punjab.

Cotton producing districts of Punjab and Sindh including Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Rajanpur, Thatta, Badin, Sanghar, Dadu, Nawabshah, Naushero Feroze and Sukkur had been under a spell of rains and thunderstorm, which washed away 1.5 million bales of cotton worth Rs100 billion.

Sindh was expecting a bumper cotton crop of five million bales this year but after damages to cotton crop due to rain, this target would not be achieved. As per assessment, about 50 per cent of the total cultivated area of cotton has been affected.

In the backdrop of this situation, the government needs to take immediate remedial measures including a ban on export of cotton and review the textile policy to save the industry from collapse because of disruption in raw material supply. Millions of workers are directly associated with the textile industry and they could become jobless if textile units are closed due to the shortage of raw material.

According to Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, heavy rains across the province of Sindh have adversely affected the rural economy of Sindh. In the wake of adverse crop situation, there is strong possibility revising down the production target of cotton crop by 2.25 millions of bales as against the target of 15 million bales this year.

The government would have to revise the cotton production target sometimes in the first week of October. The flood devastation and breaches in saline water drains have played havoc with the standing crops including cotton, onions, and chilies. Earlier the cotton production target was set at 14.5 million bales for 2011-12, however, almost 50 percent of the cotton crop has been damaged in Sindh and cotton production would reduce to 13 million bales for the year.

The affected cotton growing areas in Sindh include Mirpurkhas, Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan, Umarkot, Dadu, Ghotki, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Jamshoro, Khairpur, Larkana, Matiari, Naushehro Feroze Shaheed Benazirabad, Shikarpur, Tharparkar, Thatta and Sanghar districts.

As a result of expected short supply, the cotton prices have already gone up in the local market from Rs5550-5650 to Rs7,100 per maund which may be taken as the first move towards price inflation.

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) spokesperson said that country would be unable to export cotton as 16 million bales production target is unlikely to be achieved due to torrential rains.

According to him, as per estimates, the rains have destroyed approximately 1. 5 to 2 million bales leaving a shortfall of about 1. 5 million bales in comparison to last year; therefore, the country will not be able to export its cotton production, however, it is sufficient to fulfill the local requirements. In Sindh, the rains have destroyed crop of cotton over 200,000 acres of land and damaged approximately 1 million to 1.5 million bales.

He said that as per initial estimates, around 15 to 20 per cent of cotton crop has been damaged in Sindh as well as Punjab due to torrential rains. The yielding will likely to fall by 1.5 to 2 million bales this year in both province as the federal ministry for food and agricultural had set the target of about 16 million bales for financial year (2011-12), he added.

In present scenario, the APTMA spokesperson said, "We need the same support or at least one-off five percent mark-up rate subsidy on all loans to create liquidity and save the textile industry from bankruptcy."

Official sources said that about 2.7 million cotton bales worth Rs.3.5 billion were destroyed during recent flash floods in Sindh province as about 23 cotton growing districts of the province were badly affected due to torrential rains.

According to them, cotton crop was grown in 23 districts across the province. Out of these cotton-growing districts in the province, seven districts produced 80 per cent of the total crop production and about 74 per cent of the total output was damaged due to recent flash floods in the province.

Recent damage was bigger than last year's floods when about 2.4 million cotton bales were destroyed across the cotton growing areas in the country. This time 2.7 million bales were damaged alone in Sindh province.

They further said that cotton crop was also affected in Punjab where about standing crop over 50,000 acres was damaged due to recent heavy rains. But, they added that Punjab has surpassed its sowing targets by 100,000 acres during the current cotton crop sowing season which would help to minimize the total output loss in the province.

It may be recalled that the country has set the targets to produce about 15 million cotton bales during the year 2011-12. In the wake of loss of about two million cotton bales, this target would not be achieved and the government would have to revise the target of cotton this year apart from devising a policy to tackle adverse affects linked with this decline.