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ISLAMABAD: The country is likely to-miss cotton production target of 10.5 million bales due to high inputs costs including fertilizers, diesel, tractors, pesticides, and water shortage issues.

Sources in the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) said that during 2020-21, the total production of the cotton crop for 2020-21 declined 23 percent to little over seven million bales against 9.15 million bales 2019-2020, and during the current season, the government is also not likely to achieve the set cotton production target owing to the above mentioned issues. The area under cotton cultivation also fell by 17.4 percent to 2.01 million hectares compared to previous year’s 2.5 million hectares, mainly due to absence of incentives to farmers to sustain the crop amid challenges from competing crops like sugarcane. They said that decline in cotton production was hugely impacting the country’s balance of payment as the local industry was forced to import around $3 billion worth raw cotton to meet local requirements. They further said that in 2011, the country produced 14.7 million bales of cotton since than the crop production is declining, because the farmers did not get desirable rates and they suffered heavy financial losses as a result, they shifted on other crops especially on sugarcane and maize. Sources said that the growers kept on urging the government for an intervention cotton price of at least Rs 5,500 per 40kg this year but the MNFSR proposed price of Rs 5,000. The government has set the production target for 2021-22 crops at 10.5m bales, which is 50 percent higher against 2020-21. The government has also set the target of cultivating cotton over 2.33 million hectares, up 16 percent more, when compared to this year’s 2.01 million hectares.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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