According to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Second Quarterly Report on the “State of Pakistan’s Economy for FY21” “Within agriculture, most of the major Kharif crops performed better than last year, this improvement was attributed mainly to increases in their areas under cultivation. The government’s support package for Rabi crops, comprising subsidies on key inputs, and an increase in the support price for wheat, are likely to bolster the overall crop sector growth. However, cotton exerted a drag on the overall agricultural performance, as the revised production estimate of 7.7 million bales represented the lowest output since FY86. Nonetheless, due to better output of other crops, the overall agriculture sector is expected to register positive growth”.
Unfortunately, however, the country is likely to miss cotton production target of 10.5 million bales. The reasons behind this grim outlook are high input costs including fertilizers, diesel, tractors and pesticides. Water shortages also constitute a major hurdle to cotton growth prospects. The government, in my view, is required to examine the entire situation at the earliest with a view to initiating some remedial steps.
Shahjahan Bukhari (Rajanpur)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021