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LAHORE: Despite prevailing unprecedented heat-wave and huge water shortage at the beginning of Kharif season 2022, the Punjab Agriculture Department (PAD) is hopeful not only to achieve the cotton sowing target of 4 million acres for the current season rather surpass it.

“We are hoping to achieve 4.5 million acres of land under cotton crop this season against the target of 4 million acres while producing the white gold worth US$ 3-4 billion more than the estimates,” official sources told Business Recorder here on Wednesday.

There was an issue with the water availability creating fear about hitting the crop but now there are hopes that some water will reach canals soon not as much as desired but little bit more than the present water available due to melting of glaciers. However, Sindh is demanding that it must be given water before Punjab as its crop season is 10 days ahead of Punjab.

But we (Punjab) are saying that shortage should be shared by all the provinces so as to facilitate the growers. Now it is up to IRSA that what decision it takes. Sindh has right on 42 per cent of the available 114 million acres feet of water on our system, they added.

Throwing light on why the department is optimist about surpassing the sowing target, the sources said that last year the yield was good while prices also inflated and growers got up to Rs 12,000 per maund against the support price of Rs 5,000 per maund. They said this year certified seed penetration is also better which till last year was only three per cent and rest was taken care by the private sector or farmer to farmer deals.

The sources said that cotton scheme launched this year was also very aggressive and the department would reach each and every cotton grower to apprise him about better agronomic practices to achieve the best yield. They said that plans are also in place to tackle different pest issues such as pink bollworm or white fly.

DG Extension (Agriculture) Punjab Dr. Anjum Ali Buttar while talking to this scribe said that though water shortage had hit cotton crop in some division but situation is quite healthy in the divisions where tube well water is used. Till date Punjab had achieved 62 per cent of the target of four million acres of land which was 30 per cent more than the previous year. He said that cotton can be sown till June 07, and we are quite hopeful to manage the target.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz held a telephonic contact with the Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khurshid Shah in which matters relating to shortage of water and water supply across Punjab especially to South Punjab came under discussion.

The CM demanded the provision of water supply to Punjab according to its allocated quota and emphasized that water be provided to Punjab with the same proportion in which it is provided to the other provinces. Hamza Shahbaz underscored that the whole country is facing shortage of water and we have to cope with this problem jointly.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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