The Pakistan government has so far revised down its crop estimate almost by 30 percent this year from an initial target of 15.4 million bales set in February. Local cotton demand is estimated at 15.5 million bales this year. The latest estimate suggests the crop size will not exceed 10.8 million bales (of 170 kilogram) from 11.4 million bales forecasted last month. The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC), in a meeting held earlier this week, sees additional shortfall of 600,000 bales this crop season.
The latest assessment was made in the absence of new production estimates from Punjab where the pest attack and attack of different viruses have significantly damaged the crop, said an official of CCAC. The major setback to cotton crop came from climate change.
Multan, Lodhran, Vehari, Khanewal, Pakpattan, Sahiwal, Layyah, and Rahim Yar Khan were the worst affected areas in Punjab. The viruses that attacked the crop this year were pink bollworm, cotton leaf curl virus, and whitefly.
The early monsoon rains in Punjab caused havoc. The rain continued even though they should have stopped, which caused damage to the crop, the official said. May and June are the months when crop grows and get matured, but continuous rains and pest attacks did not allow cotton flower to grow up. The farmers made use of extensive pesticides this season to beat pest attack following heavy rains
The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, in its last fortnightly production report, said that the production in the first six months (June-November) remained at 7.87 million bales, which were almost 29 percent less than 11.07 million bales in the same period last year.
However, traders believe production would fall further.
Shahzad Ali Khan, chairman at Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, said that low production of phutti has halved workload at factories. The halved work is only allowing factories to operate at break-even level. Due to the crop damage Pakistan which has around 1,200 ginning factories is likely to face financial issues.
According to Naseem Usman, a broker at Karachi Cotton Exchange estimate for the current cotton crop size is 10 million bales. The government knows actual production estimates, but it is gradually revising down just to ease any panic like situation amongst textile mill owners.
Usman said that the mill owners have already booked cargoes of around 2.1 million bales on reports of bad crop this season. They are buying cotton from India, Brazil US and South Africa. The textile mills are expected to import at least 2.5 million bales this year.
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