May 12 - 18, 2008

Cotton being a cash crop plays a dominant role in our agrarian and industrial economy. Cotton accounts for 40 percent of the total world's fiber production.

Among 80 cotton producing countries in the world, the U.S.A., China and India are producing more than half the world's cotton production. India, which has developed and has been constantly developing its own Bt varieties of cotton seeds for the last 6-7 years, had acquired the second position in cotton production in the world during 2006-07, surpassing the U.S.A. and occupying the second position in the world after China. During the year, 2007-08, India was expected to still excel its record, thus occupying the first position in the world in cotton production, with a target of 31.0 million bales.

The performance of Pakistan in cotton production during the year, 2007-08 is feared to be poorer for the simple and major reason that we have not been able to develop our own Bt cotton seed. Our cotton growers have had no other option but to depend upon the smuggled Indian Bt cotton seed, which is usually second or third generation seed, with low productivity as with the time Bt seed loses its productivity. The government of Pakistan does not provide certified cotton seed in sufficient quantity to cotton growers and they have, therefore, to depend upon the substandard and low quality seed available in the market. Obviously, the crop based on substandard quality of cotton seed suffers from different diseases like Mealy Bug and Leaf Curl Virus. During 2007-08 this Bug and Virus caused an immense damage and loss in production. Cotton production, as estimated during the year 2007 has been 11 million bales as against the target of 14.4 million bales against the preceding year's production of 13.02 million bales. Evidently, this shows a decline of 2.02 million bales.

Our textile industry, which is the major consumer of our cotton as its raw material contributes 62-65 percent to the country's total foreign exchange earnings and adds $2.8 billion to the national exchequer. Cotton is the life of our national economy and the main raw material for our textile industry. Our domestic consumption of cotton is estimated at 14.5 15 million bales. Cotton is responsible to contribute 8 percent to the value addition in the agriculture sector. Its share to GDP is 2 percent. According to economists, an increase of one million bales of cotton contributes to half a percent increase in the country's GDP.

The present estimated production of 11.5 million bales falls short of the target of 14.4 million bales by 2.9 million bales. The short fall of 3 to 3.5 million bales to meet the domestic consumption will be met through import. However, a disturbing aspect is that India after committing to export cotton to Pakistan has stopped the shipment with an intention to renegotiate the prices at higher prices as compared to the previously agreed rate of Rs.3500 per bale weighing 37,324 kg. While 1.1million bales have already been imported from India, another half a million bales orders are in the pipeline.


The approximate existing rate of good quality cotton lint is Rs.3600 per mound and that of seed cotton or phutti is Rs.1750 per 40-kg. The government's support price for phutti is Rs.1050 per 40 kg.


The official target of the silver fiber for the current season was fixed at 14.10 million bales. Subsequently the target was revised to 12.5 million bales and then it was again revised to 11.6 million bales.


Now only 11 ginning factories are operating in the province of Punjab. No ginning factory is functioning in Sindh. According to a report issued by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Head Office, dated Sunday, 4th May, 2008, arrival of cotton ginneries in Punjab was recorded at 8.831 million bales as compared to last year's 10.090 million bales. Thus the shortage has been calculated at 12.47 percent.


While India has been playing an active and effective role in the application of Bt technology especially in cotton production and has become leader of the world in production of cotton, it has achieved this position by technological advancement, by proving a farmer friendly country, by providing their farmers unfailingly all the necessary facilities and inputs at affordable prices including irrigation water, electricity, fertilizers, loans at easy terms, marketing facilities, crop insurance and necessary infra-structure. It has been established that Bt cotton seed varieties is pest resistant, drought resistant and instrumental in increasing yield per acre. Pakistan is required to take strides to keep pace with India and other progressive countries in developing its own Bt cotton seed varieties and of other crops so that it may not only meet its own domestic needs but also be able to export its surplus and value added products. Our Agriculture Department and all other stake-holders should evaluate the prices of inputs being made available in Pakistan and should endeavour to make them economical and at par with those made available to Indian farmers by the Indian government. Irrigation water and electricity need to be mentioned specially, which are direly in short supply to our farmers and without which fixation of any target is just a wishful thinking.

Supply of main raw material viz. cotton is not being kept in accordance with the growing capacities in Pakistan, whereas production of cotton in India has been showing a perpetual increase of 20 percent on yearly basis for the last 7-8 years.

Keeping a vigilant eye on the common constrains and problems in cotton production, we must realize that Pakistan is a water scarce country. Thus the urgent need of the hour is construction of large water reservoirs like Kala Bagh Dam and Ghazi Brotha.