Pakistan’s cotton production has registered an increase of 44% to 7.27 million bales in the current season (June-December 2021) mainly due to conducive weather conditions.
The improved yield has enhanced supply of the commodity to textile exporters of the country.
Pakistan had produced 5.05 million bales in the same period of last year (June-December 2020), according to data released by Pakistan Cotton Ginners’ Association (PCGA) on Saturday.
The association reported the average weight of one bale at 155 kg. The production season is nearing its end.
“We estimate additional production of around 50,000 bales in the current season,” said former PCGA chairman Jassu Mal Leemani while talking to The Express Tribune. “However, total production will not be more than 7.3 million bales.”
The full-year output projected by PCGA is much lower than the revised projection of the government at 9.5 million bales.
The domestic demand for cotton from textile mills (yarn manufacturers) is estimated at around 16 million bales. Accordingly, they are estimated to import a huge quantity that will be far more than what the country has produced in the current season.
Cotton is a major input in textile production. Textile sector is the largest export earner in the country, as it fetches around 60% of the total annual earnings and helps maintain foreign exchange reserves of the country.
Timely rainfall in September has enhanced the cotton output this year. “Last year, untimely rainfall in August damaged almost 2 million bales in Sindh alone,” Leemani said.
“Accordingly, the country ended up with a decades-low cotton production (after 1983-84) at 5.64 million bales in 2020-21,” Leemani said.
Cotton production of the country hit a historic high level of around 14 million bales in 2014-15. Since then, the output has been on the decline mainly due to unavailability of quality seeds.
“Untimely rainfall in Sindh and white fly attacks in Punjab dented production last year.”
The decades low output encouraged textile industry (yarn manufacturers) to import 857,373 tons or $1.48 billion worth of cotton in the previous fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2021, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The government announced a minimum purchase (support) price of Rs5,000 per 40kg of cotton in October 2021.
“This further motivated growers to sow cotton at a larger area this year (compared to the previous year),” he said.
The official recalled that the association had made repeated requests to the government to announce the support price in a bid to prop up cotton production, the former PCGA chairman said.
Cotton price is hovering at around the historic high level of Rs18,000 per 40kg these days compared to around Rs11,000 per 40kg around a year ago, it was learnt.
Farmers, mostly in Punjab, preferred to sow rice, maize and sugarcane instead of cotton over the past few years after they failed to secure a good price for phutti (cotton flower). They sowed cotton seeds at around 3 million acres of land in Punjab this year compared to 6 million acres in good years of cotton production.
Farmers in Sindh sowed cotton seeds at 1.3 million acres of land this year compared to 1.5-1.6 million acres in the past.
He stressed upon the government to study weather patterns of different cotton production zones and develop seeds accordingly. “At present, it is supplying seeds that were developed decades ago after considering the weather conditions of Rahim Yar Khan district,” he said.
The government should pay special attention to cotton production, as low output encourages textile sector stakeholders it import the commodity, depleting the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2021.