Cotton arrivals plunge 40 percent on water crisis

By Staff Reporter | The News Dec 4, 2022

LAHORE: The arrival of seed cotton at the ginning stage has witnessed a decline of 40.28 percent, with analysts saying the ginners faced extreme water shortages of up to 30 percent of average flows at the sowing time.

Massive floods submerging mature plants during the harvesting period, and a failure to drain water even after months of the deluge also contributed to the decline in the arrivals, they added.

According to a report from Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) on Saturday, cotton arrivals fell to 4.280 million bales till December 1, 2022, as compared to 7.168 million bales recorded in the country the previous year.

The monthly flow of seed cotton, locally called as phutti, was recorded at 572,807 bales as compared to 911,099 bales registered the same month last year, PCGA monthly report stated.

The arrival of cotton in the Punjab was recorded at over 2.515 million bales or 31.63 percent lesser as compared to the corresponding period of last year when arrivals had stood at 3.679 million bales. Out of 26 cotton producing districts, as many as seven districts showed a downward trend in the arrival of cotton. The districts include Multan, Lodhran, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur and Layyah. A steepest fall of 71 percent was seen in Rajanpur District, which was also devastated by the floods this year.

According to the data, Sindh produced 1.765 million bales during the same period, depicting a drop of 49.40 percent over corresponding period of last year when 3.479 million bales reached ginning factories. Out of twelve cotton producing districts in Sindh, a declining trend was witnessed in all the districts except Badeen where a 164 percent increase in cotton arrival was seen.

The most affected district was Naushero Feroz, where 79 percent less production of cotton was recorded.

In total, as per the data compiled out of total 404 ginning factories operational in the country, cotton arrival amounted to 4.280 million bales, against 7.168 million bales reported in the same period last year.

Out of the ginned stock, textile mills bought 3.568 million bales as yet while traders purchased 4900 bales for export purpose, and up to 0.706 million bales was available in ginning factories as unsold stock.

On overall basis, Sanghar district in Sindh topped with a cotton arrival figure of 0.807 million bales, followed by Bahawalnagar district of Punjab with 0.453 million bales.

It may be noted that the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) was informed last month that national cotton production for 2022-23 had nose-dived to 6.3 million bales against, a target of 11.034 million bales, showing a steep decline of 43 percent. Against last year's output of 8.32 million bales, the present crop is down by 24.35 percent.

This is the smallest crop cotton growers are going to harvest since 1985-86—about 37 years down the line.

Water mismanagement has been blamed for a plunge in cotton output. During the 2022-23 crop year, cotton has been hit hard by the triple whammy; extreme water shortages of up to 30 percent of average flows at the sowing time, massive floods submerging mature plants during the harvesting period, and a failure to drain water even after months of the deluge.

The growers first received a severe blow of crippling water shortage, restricting area under cotton cultivation by about one-fifth of the target, and then during the picking season, catastrophic floods flattened their crop.

According to experts, efficient use of water resources with better infrastructure in place could reduce crop losses by half through the fairly smooth distribution of water after reducing fluctuation in natural flows. The rural economy has been facing a major blow due to poor governance of water resources by policymakers. Not only cotton, but other crops have also been ravaged by the floods, especially in Sindh and Balochistan.

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