First meeting of the Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) for the season 2016-17 was held in the chair with Secretary, Ministry of Textile Industry Amir M. Khan Marwat to assess the area and volume of current cotton crop in the country. The CCAC who had initial estimated cotton production at 14.1 million bales has been slashed by 20 percent to 11.27 million bales for the current season on Tuesday.
The country missed the crop production target by around 30 percent in 2015-16 and it remained around 10 million bales, which according to Finance Minister caused 0.5 percent to GDP growth. However, according to sources the prospects for the current season are not very bright as well and the country may face significant shortfall in the crop production as well.
Representatives of provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab; Plant Protection Department, Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), cotton growers from Punjab; Sindh and Balochistan, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) attended the meeting. Dr Khalid Abdullah, Cotton Commissioner dilated the overview of cotton crop production in the country. Challenges faced by the cotton crop especially of climate and pests like pink boll worm, white fly were discussed in detail.
The House was told that the health of cotton crop was better and would result in more yield than last year. Due to better price, the confidence of growers was restored gradually to great extent, who are using better quality fertilizer and more quality spray to enhance production. However, sowing area decreased by 21 percent in Punjab while it increased by 2 percent in Sindh, with overall decrease by 15 percent than the last year. This decrease in area has proportionately depicted in the production as well. Representatives of the provincial government explained the methodology for crop assessment and informed the House about the crop estimates.
Sources said that the participants were informed that cotton sowing target was missed by a wide margin of 15 percent in the current crop season (2016-17). Further due to uncertainty regarding cotton prices, increased sugarcane cultivation in the cotton areas and shortage of certified seed significant decline in cotton sowing was registered.
The government has downward revised cotton production target as well as area and fixed at 14.1 million bales from 7.4 million acres for the season 2016-17 against 15.49 million bales from 7.7 million acres estimated for the just concluded season 2015-16.
Punjab was expected to produce 9.5 million cotton bales from 5.9 million acres, Sindh had to cover 1.6 million acres and was estimated to produce 4.5 million cotton bales, Balochistan had to grow cotton on 0.12 million acres and was targeted to produce 0.04 million cotton bales, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was targeted to cover about 74000 acres and produce 0.0015 million cotton bales.
CCAC revised downward cotton production estimates for Punjab to 7.5 million bales against the initial estimates of 9.5 million, Sindh 3.73 million bales against 4.5 million, Balochistan 0.038 million bales against initial estimates of 0.098 million bales and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.001 million bales against 0.0015 million bales.
According to the sources, cotton sowing also declined due to lower prices of cotton nationally and internationally during the last three years that discouraged growers who opted to cultivate maize, sugarcane and rice crops in some districts of Punjab due to their better market returns. There is still uncertainty as up and down is being observed in cotton prices due to which growers are reluctant to sow cotton crop, they added. Up to 50 percent certified cotton seed was available in the market and growers faced difficulties in getting certified seed, hence affected sowing target, official maintained.
Cotton growers emphasized the need of extensive awareness campaign for pest management and to prevent rain damage. It is further added all the data is based on 170kg bale weight.
Member representing KCA, provincial and federal government and growers were of the opinion that the assessment is realistic and the ground realities are very close to this forecast. Whereas members of PCGA were of the view that the estimates are on lower side for Punjab and supposed to be on higher side, though PCGA has not issued its cotton arrival reports.
The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee to hold three more meetings would be held in due course of time.
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