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Policy demanded to avoid repeat of cotton crop failure

KARACHI: The government has been urged to formulate a new cotton policy to avoid losses suffered due to crop failure over the last two consecutive years.

Analysts say the key crop failure should be taken seriously also because it did not occur in any of the cotton-growing countries except Pakistan.

The cotton crop failure has far-reaching impact in the country where 60 per cent population lives in rural areas.

A short crop resulted in job losses to rural workforce, particularly women cotton pickers.

Pakistan’s cotton production stood at 15 million bales in the 2013-14, which dropped to around 10m bales during the last two seasons. It translated into a shortfall of 10m bales in the last two years which, according to experts, cost the country around Rs500 billion. Moreover, the country also had to foot a huge import bill to meet the demand.

Dr Jassu Mal T. Leemani, chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners’ Association (PCGA), told Dawn the biggest problem facing the cotton crop was the absence of support price for cotton.

“The government was giving support price and subsidy to other crops such as sugar cane and wheat, but not cotton. It encouraged growers to shift to those crops which ensure fixed and secured income”, he said.

The sugar cane support price fixed by the government is Rs182 a maund (around 37 kilograms); besides, the government gives subsidy on the export of sugar.

Mr Leemani, who is also the country’s biggest cotton exporter, said that around 30pc cotton area in Punjab has gone under sugar cane or maize cultivation. At the time of independence, around six million acres of land used to come under cotton cultivation, which has now shrunk to 4.5m acres.

In Sindh, the area under cotton cultivation remains unchanged at 1.5m acres.

He also admitted that poor ginning was also causing huge loss to the country as the 1952 technology of saw-gin was damaging cotton quality and the length of its fibre.

The new cotton policy should also come up with incentives for ginners so that they could be encouraged to shift to modern ginning technology.

The electricity to the ginning industry should also be given on minimum rates as was being offered to the textile industry, he added.

Karachi Cotton Brokers Forum chairman Naseem Usman Osawala also warned that any delay in giving incentives and support price or subsidy to the next cotton crop would be detrimental.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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