ISLAMABAD: Textile exporters and cotton ginners have called upon the government to offer farmers incentives to enhance cotton production in Pakistan.
“Decline in cotton production is directly hitting Pakistan’s exports, employment and income of the people beside increasing trade deficit,” Asad Naqvi, Senior Analyst at All Pakistan Textiles Mills Association (APTMA), told WealthPK.
He said the government should engage various departments with the ministries of agriculture and textile to formulate an urgent plan to increase the area of cotton cultivation while using modern techniques. He said that low-quality seed and pesticides, high insect infestation, low profitability of cotton crop, and climate-related issues are major factors for the decrease in cotton productivity.
“The government should declare cotton emergency and take all necessary measures to increase production,” the analyst said.
He suggested providing training to farmers regarding quality seeds for plantation and use of modern techniques while sowing cotton crop.
“According to an estimate, Pakistan is losing at least $5 billion directly on account of low production of cotton,” Naqvi said.
“Increase in cotton production will have a direct impact of $1 billion per 1 million bales,” he added.
Pakistani textile sector needs to import $4 billion worth of cotton this year to fulfil its demand, Naqvi said, adding that textile manufacturers were paying $400 million for one million bales of cotton, which is far more expensive than local cotton.
He said that the country’s textile sector bore the brunt of reduction in cotton production. He said the textile sector needs 12 million to 15 billion bales of cotton while local production is just 5 million bales this year.
Chaudhry Waheed Arshad, Chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), said Pakistan produced enough cotton in 1992 for local demand. However, due to lack of awareness and negligence, Pakistan is now facing reduction in cotton production.
He demanded the government take steps to increase cotton production. He said the government should increase the price of per 40kg cotton to encourage the farmers to grow more cotton.
Arshad added that abundant land was available in Southern Punjab region, which should be used for cotton cultivation.
The PCGA chairman said a year-on-year (YoY) decline of 34% was recorded in cotton production during the first nine months (July-March) of the current fiscal year.
“Cotton production was 4.912 million bales during 9MFY23 compared to 7.441 million bales during the same period of last fiscal year, with a shortage of 2.529 million bales,” he mentioned.
Arshad said that due to outdated farming methods in Pakistan, per hectare yield of cotton is four times lower than that of the United States.
“Pakistani farmers are also unable to compete and get due profit because of low cotton yield. Why would a farmer cultivate cotton if the yield is too low?” he asked.
According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Pakistan spent $1.828 billion importing 776,394 metric tons raw cotton during the last fiscal year.
According to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, cotton production declined by 35.49% in Pakistan due to various reasons during the last 12 years.
Cotton production dropped to 8.33 million bales in 2021-22 from 12.91 million bales during the year 2009-10, the ministry said in a report.
The area of cotton cultivation also dropped by 37.52% to 1.94 million hectares in 2021-22 from 3.11 million hectares in 2009-10, said the report.