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Cotton: An important cash crop

  1. NAB explain its position
  2. Cotton: An important cash crop
  3. Transportation: Reducing the petroleum consumption

Cotton is providing livelihood to over 5 million people at the farm and industry

By Dr. S.M. ALAM NIA, Tandojam
May 01 - 07, 2000

Cotton is the second important crop of our country after wheat, in terms of area and value added. During l991, Pakistan ranked third globally after China and the US, in production and was the first in cotton export. Other important countries in cotton production are India, Russia Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey. The world production of cotton is nearly 50 million bales grown on more than 80 million acres, with average yields in excess of 290 pounds per acre. About 30 % of the world cotton is produced in the US. Cotton is known as the silver fibre of Pakistan. In Pakistan, cotton crop is cultivated in the southern Punjab and Sindh. It brings cash returns to the farmers, supplies raw materials to the textile industry and provides employment in both the rural and the urban areas. Cotton is the major textile fibre used by man. Cotton is also providing livelihood to over 5 million people at the farm and industry and trade, furnishes raw material for 1035 ginneries and 441 textile mills and 650 oil expelling units in the country. Over the last several years, raw cotton and its textile products have contributed on an average about 60 per cent of the total annual national exports besides providing employment to a sizeable manpower of the country. It also yields 3.4 to 3.6 million tonnes of cotton seeds which contributes over 64 per cent of the local edible oil production. Cotton seed is also used extensively in milk production. In addition, over 2 million tonnes cotton oil cake is also obtained which is used as livestock feed. A significant part of cotton seed is also fed to the lactating animals. Thus, in the country cotton plays a vital role in the economic development of the counrty in both the majors sectors i.e. agriculture and industry.

Punjab and Sindh are the major cotton growing provinces. The respective shares of the two provinces in cotton production are estimated at 81 and 19 per cent, respectively

Cotton is a major summer crop and planted in March/April in Sindh and May and June in the Punjab. The time of sowing is so adjusted that the young seedlings escape the early summer heat as much as possible. The climate of lower Sindh is milder than that of upper Sindh and the Punjab. It sown on nearly 3 million hectares, contributing 29 per cent to the value added by major crops, Thus, is grown on about 12 per cent of the cropped area which is higher than any other cash crop. Cotton in Pakistan is mostly grown on the alluvial plains of the Indus basin. Soil texture is silty loam, not high in sand or clay content. These soils are deep and have high water holding capacity most of which is available to the plant during the growing period. It competes directly with rice in those areas where both crops can be cultivated. Cotton in combination with winter crops also competes indirectly with sugarcane as the latter occupies land resources round the year. The average yield at the country level has ranged from 488 to 601 kg/hectz during 1992-93 to 1997-98. The yield of cotton in the Punjab which contributes nearly 82 per cent in the total production ranged from 470 to 602 kg/hectare.

Cotton lint production is one-fourth of Egypt, Turkey and Mexico and about one half of USA. Although, Pakistan ranked 5th on the basis of acerage and 6th in respect of cotton production in the world, but it was 36th on the basis of yield per acre. Similarly, the acerage yield per acre of cotton is lowest as compared to other cotton growing countries of the world. The cotton growing countries are stepping up their production whereas Pakistan has not yet registered satisfactory progress in per hectare yields. In Pakistan for industry, over 9 million bales of 170 kg each are required for domestic consumption in the textile industry while over one million bales are exported.

It has been reported that US produces around 18.7 million bales cotton, China, the third cotton producing country stands at 15.48 million bales Pakistan in the cotton producing country stands at 9.50 million bales. The production of cotton in the recent past has suffered due to leaf curl virus, traggered by some infestations of white fly wide spread attack of helioths and boll worms, floods and untimely rains/hailstorms etc. The depressed cotton would in turn affect the manufacturing and exports of cotton yarn and other made ups. Thus, there is dire need for stabilizing the cotton productuion.

Improvement: Seed is one of the most important inputs in cotton production. It plays a key role in enhancing the productivity of the crop. Being open pollinated crop, experts recommended to plant entire area with certified seed every year. The grower also invariably complain about ineffectiveness of pesticides either because of their adulteration/mixing or under dosing recommended by the distributors to encourage the sale of their products. The alteration practices in the pesticide trade are increasing because of inadequate testing facilities and poor implementation of agricultural pesticides ordinance. As a result, the economy of both the farmers and the country has suffered.

Effective measure should be taken by the government to control such obnoxious work. The important diseases of cotton are root rot, fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, boll weevil, pink bollworm, cotton leaf worm cotton fleahopper, cotton aphid, red spider, garden welsworm lygus bug, cotton stainer, cutworms, jassid, cluster caterpiller spiky bollworm.