Cotton-Field 400RIZWAN BHATTI

KARACHI: Ongoing heavy rains have badly hit the standing cotton crop across the country and may also hurt the cotton production target of 15 million bales.

Market sources told Business Recorder that the current rain spell hit almost the entire cotton belt in Punjab and Sindh, but major losses are expected in Sindh’s interior, where cotton crop was ready for harvest.

They said that heavy rains had hit almost all cotton crop areas, including Mirpurkas, Sanghar, Hyderabad, Badin, Thatta, Kot Ghulam Muhamad, Diplo, Tando Alahyar and Golarchi.

In Punjab, cotton fields in Multan, Raheem Yar Khan, Bhalwalnagar, Bahawalpur, Vehari, Rajanpur and other cotton growing areas were affected.

Although, the cotton situation is still under control, but danger looms large if rains continued at this stage and measures were not taken to save the crop, said Shekeel Ahmed Khilji director national seed and an cotton expert. “We are closely monitoring the cotton crop. There are reports that all major cotton cultivation areas have received heavy rain,” he said.

Advising farmers to drain water from their fields as quickly as possible, he said that rainwater might destroy the crop. He said that heavy downpours might also trigger flooding in various areas.

According to him, cotton prices were depressed because of heavy rains, adding that mills were reluctant to buy the affected crop.

Executive Member of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Ihsanul Haq said that the current spell of rains might reduce the incidence of cotton leaf curl virus in Punjab.  He said that Pakistan lost nearly two 2.5 million bales of cotton in rains last year.

“Main cotton producing districts of Punjab, including Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur, Multan, Vehari, Lodhran, Khanewal are facing severe threat of virus attack. But there is a possibility that whitefly population will decrease after rains,” he maintained.

Cotton virus attack, he said, was also observed in Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur, Naushehro Feroze and Benazirabad districts in Upper Sindh.