Worries of cotton stakeholders
A delegation of cotton stakeholders comprising representatives of APTIMA, PCGA and Kissan Itehad met Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and apprised him about the inefficiencies of cotton market which has caused steep decline in production. The main reason is that growers, mostly small farmers, are not getting the right price of their produce. It has resulted in shrinkage of areas under cultivation of cotton crop.
Cotton production has shown a decline of 6.93 percent as the crop yield this year has been estimated 10.7 million bales which are insufficient to meet even the demand of textile industry what to speak of its export. The deficit has to be met by importing 4 million bales, causing a drain of $1.2 billion on foreign currency reserves. In Punjab cotton production fell by 9.41 percent and in Sindh by 2.5 percent. It merits mention here that small farmers had served as main engine of growth in cotton production twice when bumper crop of 15 million bales had been obtained in 1988-89 and 2011-12. The previous PML-N government neglected the importance of cotton production in the national output and gave incentives to sugarcane growers and sugar mills owners. The kissan package of 2016 was sugarcane growers specific, completely ignoring cotton and rice growers. However, PTI government has approved an agriculture boosting programme worth Rs.307.9 billion for the next four years. Rs.250 billion shall be spent on the projects of enhancing crop productivity. A sub committee of National Assembly Special Committee on agriculture has recommended minimum support price of Rs. 4000 per 40 kilogram to be paid to cotton growers. If further incentives of easy soft loan and provision of high yield variety of seeds on subsidised price are ensured then the target of 20 million bales of cotton can be achieved.