Textile manufacturers have called upon the government to seek assistance from other countries for enhancing cotton production in the country.
“The government should seek technical assistance from countries like United States, China and Brazil to improve cotton production,” All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) suggested in one of its reports.
Textile manufacturers suggested the government invite foreign cotton experts to train Pakistani officials and farmers on soil testing, sowing, irrigation and using accurate pesticides.
“Pakistani officials should also be sent to these countries to study their methods and techniques of cotton cultivation and harvesting so that they can train the people back in the country,” the report recommended.
The APTMA report suggested that the government help farmers in accessing quality seeds of cotton and enhancing yield through modern farming. “Foreign experts can better train Pakistani officials of agriculture department and farmers in identifying proper land, seeds, tools and pesticides for cotton cultivation,” it said.
Per hectare yield of cotton in Pakistan is just 400 kilograms, which is ranked 47th in the world, while it is as high as 1,800kg in US and some other countries, the report added.
The APTMA identified cotton leaf curl virus as a major disease of the crop in Pakistan. “Expertise of foreign experts can be useful for controlling the curl virus,” the report said. It is also suggested that more land should be brought under cotton cultivation.
“Plenty of abandoned land available in southern parts of Punjab province should be used for cotton cultivation,” the report added.
The APTMA said that due to negligence and replacing cotton crop with others, Pakistan has dropped from 4th to 7th position in cotton producing countries. According to an APTMA estimates, Pakistan was losing $2 billion to $3 billion in textile exports each year due to shortage of cotton for value-added products.
According to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, production of cotton declined by 35.49% in Pakistan during the last 12 years due to various reasons.
“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% during the mentioned period to 1.94 million hectares in 2021-22 from 3.11 million hectares in 2009-10. A slight increase of 3.23% has been observed in per hectare yield of cotton during the last 12 years, the report said. Per hectare cotton yield rose to 728.65kg in 2021-22 from 705.88kg in 2009-10.
According to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, low-quality seed and pesticides, high insect infestation, low profitability of cotton crop, and climate related issues were the major factors behind the decrease in cotton productivity during the last 10 years.
Chaudhry Waheed Arshad, Chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), said that Pakistan was producing enough cotton in 1992 for local demand. However, due to unawareness and negligence, Pakistan was facing reduction in cotton production.
He also demanded the government to take steps to increase cotton production in Pakistan. He said the government should increase the price of per 40kg cotton to incentivise farmers and encourage them to enhance cultivation.