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The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) has revised downward cotton production target by around 33 percent, i.e. to 10.2 million bales against the initial target of 15 million bales set for the current season 2019-20, after missing the sowing target by over six percent.

This shortfall of 33 percent in cotton production translates to the requirement of importing at least five million bales, increasing the import bill very substantially, said an official of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA).

The first meeting of Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) was held under the chairmanship of Chaudhry Mohammad Ayub, Additional Secretary Ministry of National Food Security & Research. Representatives of provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab, Plant Protection Department (PPD), Trading Cooperation of Pakistan (TCP), Federal Seed Certification & Registration Department (FSC&RD), Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC), All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), Karachi Cotton Association (KCA), and Cotton Growers attended the meeting. The committee met to asses the volume of current cotton crop in the country.

Talking to Business Recorder Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah said that missing the sowing target, pests' attacks as well as weather led to revising downward the crop production target.

Target for cotton production set for this year by the Ministry of Food Security/Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) was 15 million bales. The first Cotton Crop Assessment Committee met on Friday and it was unanimously agreed that the actual cotton production that can be realistically be expected is 10 million bales.

Dr Khalid Abdullah dilated upon the overview of cotton production scenario in the country. Challenges faced by the cotton crop especially high input prices, insect pests pressure and higher temperature were also discussed in detail. Representatives of the provincial government explained the methodology for crop assessment and informed the meeting about the crop estimates.

The official sources said the country has missed cotton sowing target by over 6 percent. Cotton was sown on 2.658 million hectares against the target of 2.785 million hectares. Sources said that due to increased sugarcane cultivation in cotton areas, delay in harvest of wheat and shortage of water, decline in cotton sowing was registered.

The government had fixed the cotton area and production target for the year 2019-20, according to which Punjab was expected to cover 2.145 million hectares and produce 10.2 million cotton bales, Sindh had to cover 0.64 million hectares and produce 4.6 million cotton bales, Balochistan had to cover 0.1 million hectares and produce 0.2 million bales and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been targeted to sow cotton on 0.01 million acres and produce 0.0002 million bales of cotton.

Sindh reported a drop of 30% in the expected cotton crop while Punjab reported a drop of 15% over last year's production. This shortfall of 33% in cotton production translates to a drop of two percent in GDP as well as the requirement of importing at least 5 million bales increasing the import bill very substantially, claimed an official of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA). The expected quality of cotton is also much worse than last year, he added.

The official said this is bad news for the economy of the country and the blame for this fiasco can squarely be placed on the Ministry of Food Security and the PCCC. The transfer of PCCC from the textile ministry to food ministry was a parting gift from the previous government who approved this transfer in their last cabinet meeting. The failure of the cotton crop calls for urgent and immediate action by the government in restructuring of PCCC with private sector leadership. The need for a long-term stable and progressive textile and cotton policy has been underscored by this disaster, which is inescapable if Pakistan is to progress and achieve economic stability and aggressive growth. This is a national security paradigm and should not and cannot be ignored.

The member representing APTMA was of the opinion that the assessment is very realistic and the ground realities are very close to this forecast. Cotton growers emphasized the need of price intervention by the government in such a way that benefit should go directly to growers.

The additional secretary MNFS&R stated that cotton crop size is assessed on the basis of data provided by provincial governments, and ensured the second assessment will be held after 3-4 weeks. The meeting was adjourned with vote of thanks from the chair.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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