Parvaiz Ishfaq Rana
KARACHI, Nov 27: Ginners and growers are insisting the government to ban import of cotton and direct Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to intervene to support the rapidly falling prices of phutti (seed cotton) and cotton.
Declining phutti and cotton prices have caused huge losses to growers and ginners and if the government does not move to safeguard their interests, growers will shift to other crops next year, Prem Chand Khayati, senior vice chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners’ Association (PCGA), told Dawn on telephone. He said that in worst situation the least government could do is to give subsidy to growers.
A leading Sindh cotton grower Taj Moad Daherey, who talked to Dawn on telephone from his native town Shahpur Chakar, said that low price of phutti ranging between Rs2,000 and Rs2,200 per 40 kg has made growers to change their mind to shift to other crops.
“If input cost of a grower comes to around Rs3,200 to Rs3,500 per 40 kg of phutti, how can he survive when he is given Rs2,200 for the same quantity?” Taj asserted. He asked the government to immediately reduce growers’ losses.
The biggest problem, he said, is that the agriculture ministry “is not being run by professionals who could understand issues of growers and guide them on each crop and at every situation”.
Agriculture has a major share in Pakistan’s economy, and if due to any reason something goes wrong with any of cash crops like cotton, wheat, sugarcane or rice it will have colossal impact on large segment of population, he added.
Mr Daherey added that there is nobody to listen to growers and this is causing frustration because issues like pest and virus attack caused huge losses to cotton growers in lower Sindh this season.
He said that in this fast-moving era of electronic media and cell phones, the information system of government departments concerned is still based on primitive systems of ‘wall-chalking’. This lack of proper guidance is the main reason that the country’s per acre yield is the lowest in the region, he maintained.
The cotton production estimates were changed several times, he said, and this kept phutti and cotton prices fluctuating. Initially the government’s estimate was at around 12.9 million bales, but later it was placed above 14 million bales. Besides, the Cotton Crop Assessment Committee had its own production estimates, he added.