Will monsoon rain & flood impact cotton production in Pakistan?

By Zafar Hussain | Gwadar Pro Aug 16, 2022

ISLAMABAD, Aug. 16 (Gwadar Pro) - Monsoons are always good for the growers of Pakistan, especially those in the south as it faces drought for decades but this year heavy rain has put farmers in a tough condition. In general, all the cotton crops were destroyed leaving people in a difficult situation.

This devastation will not only affect the farmers but has a negative impact on the country at large. Cotton is a water-sensitive crop and gets damaged in heavy rain. As per Pakistan Metrological Department more heavy monsoon spells are expected. According to the Pakistan Cotton Committee,  production is  expected to improve by 9.5-10 million bales this year.

Cotton is among those commodities exported to China, and contributes to the country’s economic recovery and it was expected to achieve historical cotton import from Pakistan but monsoon rain and flood affected the cotton production. The General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) data showed that China imported more than $315 million worth of cotton yarn from Pakistan in the first six months of this year. Uncombed single cotton yarn containing 85% or above, (commodity code 52051200) crossed $247 million in the first half of 2022.

Well-established sources told Gwadar Pro that data further showed that cotton yarn (commodity code 52051100) crossed $64.62 million, and uncombed cabled cotton yarn (commodity code 52053200) crossed $2.38 million in the first H1 of 2022.

In the first half of 2022 China imported more than 93265.43 tons of cotton yarn from Pakistan. Monsoon and COVID-19 affected the import of cotton yarn in the first six months of this year, while last year in the same period it was more in terms of quantity and value.

China has minimized the effects of flooding on Agri-sector

Cotton production in Pakistan is in a vicious circle. According to the research of the Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), low production of cotton leads to low profitability of cotton planting. Cotton farmers turn to growing sugarcane in cotton-growing areas for better income. Sugarcane plants robbed water from cotton plants and humidified the whole area. The high humidity leads to more insects which are deadly to the cotton plants and farmers have no technology to deal with them. What makes it worse is the climate change in the past few years, which is also weakening cotton’s strength and staple elongation.

Dr. Tahir Mumtaz Awan, In-charge of China Study Center, COMSATS, CUI told Gwadar Pro that Pakistan has seen a lower production of cotton for the past several years because of frequent extreme weather, the scourge of insect pests, and insufficient technological investment in the cotton industry. The latest technology and varieties can be introduced and agricultural researchers can be trained to work on all three types of cotton i.e. (i) Egyptian cotton (G. barbadense), known as extra-long staple cotton, (ii) Asiatic Cotton (G. arboreum), and (iii) American upland cotton (G hirsutum). Mostly in Pakistan, China, and other neighboring countries, Asiatic cotton is cultivated. China is using the latest technologies to control the monsoon & flood damages and Pakistan as a friendly country to China can adopt those technologies and methods to reduce the impact of flooding.  

"We have to do extensive research and find a solution as cotton in Pakistan has evolved with the quality of high resistance to heat, drought, saline-alkali, and monsoon rain & flood, while China’s land cotton takes an edge in yield, quality, and precocity. Similar improvements in yield and quality specifications are needed through bilateral research and training," said Dr. Tahir Mumtaz Awan.

What is the expectation for cotton crops this year and the biggest challenge?

According to the experts, the yield expected this year was 6.22 million bales, but the recent monsoon disrupted this target, and much lower can be achieved now. Although in May 2022 it was reported that over 80% of cotton sowing was achieved and a higher yield was obvious, heavy rainfall and lack of protection mechanisms made the situation worse in Pakistan. Similar issues can be seen in the case of other agricultural products also, so Pakistan has to put more focus on mechanisms to protect the crops from floods.

"The biggest challenge at the moment is to protect the farmers as due to heavy rainfall and floods, they are under debts and are bound to work on other’s lands for next few years to make their both ends meet. A support system from the government is expected along with trainings and adoption of the latest methods in growing and reaping the crops," added Dr. Tahir.

The flood protection mechanisms are also one of the biggest challenges and the same situation can occur in the next monsoon season too if appropriate measures are not taken by the relevant authorities. The recent monsoon and cotton crop devastations in major parts of Pakistan no doubt will disrupt cotton production.

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