Cotton sowing likely to decline

Salman Siddiqui

Thursday, February 20, 2014

KARACHI: The government should immediately announce minimum support price for phutti (seed-cotton) before the sowing season of the commodity starts in March; otherwise growers may opt to sow other cash crops, official sources said on Wednesday.

“The government should announce the minimum price (support price) for the sale of cotton like it does every year for wheat, and sugarcane,” Prem Chand Kiyatani, vice chairman of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), said.

He said that the government used to fix minimum price for phutti 10 to 12 years ago but it stopped doing so for unknown reasons, he said.

“This is the right time to fix the minimum price for cotton, as farmers are preparing for growing the commodity from March,” he said.

The growers are not happy with the price that they are getting for cotton these days. And if the government sets a minimum price for the commodity, it will convince them to sow the commodity at a larger area or minimum at an area at which they sowed last time. Otherwise, they have options to sow other cash crops, he said. “They may opt to grow maize, rice and sugarcane instead of cotton the next season if they are not ensured that they will get good price for cotton,” he said.

Currently, growers are selling phutti at Rs3,000 to Rs3,300 per 40 kilogram these days, he said. The country is expected to harvest a total of 13.5 million bales (of 155 kilogram each) during outgoing season, which is almost similar to the production of last year, he said.

While the need of cotton in Pakistan stands somewhere at 15 million bales. “Leading spinning mills import high quality cotton to produce high quality cotton-yarn, while such imports help meeting total demand of the country,” he said.

According to Cotton Crop Assessment Committee, growers have cultivated the crop at 6.70 million acres area of land in outgoing season, which was 12 percent less than the set target of 7.60 million acres of land.

“…competitive price advantage of rice, sugarcane and corn over cotton, are the main factors of falling cotton production,” PCGA said in a handout the other day.

Ibrahim Mughal, chairman of Agri Forum of Pakistan, said that a decline in production of cotton would result into widening trade deficit. “The cotton and associated textile products earn about 70-75 percent export proceeds every year.”

If the government gives due importance to cotton and other cash crops, they (crops) may help the country turning the trade deficit into surplus, he said. The NEWS

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