Arrival of new cotton crop

Source: Published in Business & Economy on Monday, July 18, 2016

THE new cotton crop has started arriving in the market in sizeable quantities, amidst the looming threat of monsoon rains in crop areas, in the lower Sindh region.

Cultivation on 640,000ha this season exceeds the agriculture department’s target of 660,000ha and is higher than 621,000ha of last year; the crop is also stated to be healthy and robust.

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department’s forecast, moderate to heavy rains expected in lower Sindh may coincide with the sowing and picking of the crop. The risk to the crop cannot be ruled out. Rains adversely affect the cotton quality and ginners tend to deny a fair price to cotton producers, owing to a higher level of moisture in the crop. But, interestingly, post-rain boll formation in the cotton plant is welcomed by farmers.

Cotton ginners anticipate better per acre productivity this season in the backdrop of subsidy provided under the Kissan Package on vital inputs like urea and DAP fertiliser. Farmers are likely to benefit from improved yield.

The market price of cotton is low as ginners know that monsoon is just around the corner and growers would quickly sell their crop to avoid damages Senior Vice Chairman of Sindh zone of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Girdhari Lal says around 80pc of total Sindh’s ginning factories have gone into operation. He, however, fears that if it rains the quality of seed cotton would be affected. The seed cotton is in better shape, fetching a rate of Rs3,100-3,200 per 40kg. Pakistan’s lint cotton is sold at Rs6,200 per maund (37.32kg).

Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) Abdul Majeed Nizamani says given international market price of lint cotton, the price for phutti must start from Rs2,900-3,000 per 40kg which, he regretted, is not the case. The rate varies between Rs2,100-2,800 per 40kg in lower Sindh’s market.

Nabi Bux Sathio, general secretary Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, wants the federal governments to procure cotton crop and to seriously consider fixing an indicative or support price for cotton if it wants to support farmers. The government then should make sure that ginners do not offer a price less than procurement price of seed cotton.

He claims that the price at Rs2,700 for 40kg remains inadequate given cost of farm inputs and tube wells irrigation.

Luckily, he says, this time round the price of urea and DAP has dropped. The current market price of cotton is low because ginners know that monsoon season is just around the corner and growers would quickly sell their crop to avoid damages. Cotton acreage has dropped in districts like Sanghar, said to be the country’s largest cotton growing district and Badin.

Crop was sown on 116,000ha down from 124,000ha of last year in Sanghar as farmers switched over to other crops. In Badin, cotton was cultivated on 19,500ha against last year’s 21,400ha. One of the reasons for the drop is the fear of damage from rains. Sowing of crop in upper Sindh, though, has improved.

The cultivated area in Ghotki and Naushahro Feroze, has increased mainly because growers go for late sowing in upper Sindh. When rains visit these areas the crop is usually in vegetative growth and major damages are avoided.