Cotton output set to hit a record low

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KARACHI: Continuing its consistent fall for the sixth year in a row, the country’s cotton output in the ongoing season is set to hit a record low at 8.5 million bales.

Production data released by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) on Wednesday rev­e­aled that the country is likely to face a shortfall of around 2.1m bales. Cotton analysts firmly believe that the total production to remain below the 9m mark.

PCGA Chairman Jawed Sohail Rehmani feared the current season would be the worst as initial estimates suggest that only 8.5m bales of cotton may be produced.

He added that cotton is a cash crop and backbone of the economy because around 65 per cent of the country’s exports depend on this crop but lamented the government’s lack of attention to the changing trend.

Sohail alleged that there is a sugar lobby within the government which protects its interests at the cost of cotton crop but there should be a realisation that sugar is consumed locally whereas cotton earns foreign exchange.

He demanded the government for removal of import duty on cotton until local stocks are picked up by textile spinning mills as ginners are still holding sizeable cotton inventory in anticipation of selling at higher prices.

Cotton analyst Amir Naseem said that as a result of this demand-supply gap, local consumers are likely to import around 6m bales putting a huge burden on the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

The country’s production has been on a declining trend after producing bumper crop of 14.86m bales in the 2013-14 seasons and is feared to hit lowest at around 8.5m bales during this season, Naseem added.

The country’s cotton production, as of Dec 15, faces a shortfall of 2.10m bales as production clocked in at 7.8m bales over the corresponding period last year when production was at 9.96m bales.

Dayaram, a cotton grower and ginner from Kandiaro, Sindh, told Dawn that presently, around 1.2m bales of unsold stocks are held by ginners while adding that they are faced with financial crisis as textile industry is focusing on imports.

He urged the government to save ginners from an imminent collapse because growers have almost sold their entire phutti (seed cotton) but ginneries are presently holding huge stocks of unsold cotton.

Dayaram drew government’s attention towards rapidly falling cotton production and urged that measures be taken on war footing to ensure higher production.

Cotton production in Punjab declined to 4.467m bales as against 5.918m bales produced in the same period last year. Similarly, production in Sindh stood at 3.394m bales compared to 4.04m bales in the corresponding period last year.

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