NEW COTTON STRATEGY
...to achieve target of 1.5 million bales
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
May 05 - 18, 2003
The economic managers have chalked out a new strategy for enhancing cotton production to the level of 1.5 million bales to meet the growing demand of the local textile industry.
The consumption of cotton is gradually increasing in Pakistan as the textile sector which used around 9 million bales previously has crossed the consumption even to 12 million bales this year.
In order to produce yarn of finer counts, the industry imported over 1.2 million during the years while the forecast for next year is said to be much more than the current level of consumption hence the industry would have to meet the requirement by importing the quality cotton.
The eruption of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in cotton producing countries especially China has resulted in the shortfall of cotton in the world commodity as the buyers are naturally avoiding to place orders for purchase of cotton from China. Consequently, the prices as well as demand for raw cotton is on the increase in the world market. The cotton prices in the world market which used revolve around 50-52 cents have jumped over 62 cents a pound. The increase in price was naturally an attraction for the local producers which may lead to register an increase in export of raw cotton from Pakistan despite strong opposition by the textile industry which pleads for cotton for local industry first. During the current year the total export of cotton was estimated at 213,246 bales.
According to plan for producing more cotton which consist of improving yield per unit area and the rehabilitation of cotton cultivation in former cotton zones such as Okara, Pakpattan, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Jhang and Toba Tek Sindh district of Punjab.
Currently, the main producer of cotton is the province of Punjab while the contribution of other provinces in cotton production despite having rich lands for cultivation the share of Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP was nominal mainly due to water shortage.
The areas selected for cotton production on the virgin lands of Balochistan have shown tremendous results with the produce of long staple, contamination free quality cotton. Encouraged with the results, the authorities have planned to earmark more lands for cultivation of the cash crop in Balochistan, Sindh and NWFP provinces.
The new areas for cultivation of good quality cotton are currently under investigation in Balochistan and NWFP and Right Bank of River Indus in Sindh.
There are strong expectations that as a result of efforts under new strategy, Balochistan will produce cotton equivalent to Sindh, as encouraging results have been achieved from there. Hopes are also bright in NWFP.
Cotton production at the end of the current season is estimated as over 10 million bales despite a decline in the area under cultivation.
Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has said that the country's total production has gone up by 11.2 per cent compared to last year, to make the total of 8.736 million bales.
Punjab has registered an increase of 15 per cent to 67,77,390 bales meaning additional production of 841,728 bales. Sindh has registered improvement of 2.17 per cent to 19,55,989 bales during the current season. The production capacity of Balochistan and Sindh are the special part of the scheme to enhance the target of cotton production to the level of 1.5 million bales.
Besides using modern techniques for enhancing per acre yield, the strategy also emphasis to enhance loaning facility to the farming sector all over the country. Under the financial arrangement for the farming sector, the commercial banks have already increased their share for the agriculture sector and disbursed Rs15 billion among the farmers during the first 9 months of the current financial year. This shows an increase of 28.3 per cent over the previous year when the commercial banks had disbursed Rs11.7 billion.
The overall farm credit disbursement from public and private financial sector witnessed a rapid increase during the fiscal year as it grew by 113.6 per cent and 142.5 per cent when compared with the same period of 2001-2002. As a result of healthy rate of return, the commercial banks have found the farming sector as an attractive area for lending, hence the banking sector in the private sector is showing greater interest by enhancing the farming credit to the level of Rs21.30 billion. The banks, which are active in agriculture lending, include National Bank, Habib Bank, Muslim Commercial Bank and Allied Bank. This significant increase in commercial banks' credit to the farmers is being attributed to the revamping of the farm loan schemes and other measures taken by the central bank.
Cotton is the major cash crop catering 55 per cent domestic edible oil requirements of the country and providing raw material to 1000 ginneries and 444 textile mills where millions of people earn their livelihood. Cotton also shares 60 per cent of total export value of the country.