Govt urged to declare emergency for cotton production

LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) Thursday urged the government to declare cotton emergency in the agriculture sector as fall in cotton production had started affecting the economic chain.

After having a meeting in this connection, LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah, Senior Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan and Vice President Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry told the media here that the situation in cotton production had impacted the textile, directly or indirectly associated other industries, ginners and growers.

During the meeting, LCCI Executive Committee Member Muhammad Nadeem Qureshi briefed the LCCI office-bearers about the ongoing cotton situation.

The LCCI office-bearers said that the textile was the largest export-oriented sector contributing around 60 per cent to the total exports of the country.

The cotton production in the country had witnessed a consistent decline since 2017-18 when it reached 11.9 million bales. Following on from 2017-18, the cotton production in 2018-19 declined by 17.5 per cent to 9.8 million bales. They said that in 2019-20, the cotton production further declined by 6.9 per cent to 9.18 million bales. It is worth mentioning that in recent times, the cotton production touched a peak of 13.96 million bales in 2014-15.

They explained that the yield of cotton has also declined consistently since 2017-18 when it reached 753 (kg/hectare). After that, the yield declined by 6.1 per cent to 707 (kg/hectare) in 2018-19 and further declined by 12.6 per cent to 618 (kg/hectare). It is pertinent to mention that the yield reached 802 (kg/hectare) in 2014-15.

They said that the steep decline in cotton production and yield had been having an adverse impact on the textile exports of Pakistan which declined from 13.58 billion US dollars in 2018-19 to 12.78 billion US dollars in 2019-20. Even in the first six months of current fiscal year (July-Dec 2020), the textile exports stood at 6.62 billion US dollars as compared to 6.82 billion US dollars in (July-Dec 2019). The cotton import bill had also escalated in recent times due to decline in cotton production. They said that the imports of raw cotton went up from 1.18 billion US dollars in 2018-19 to 1.34 billion US dollars in 2019-20.

Since cotton was an important cash crop of the country which contributes 0.8 per cent to GDP and 4.1 per cent to the total value addition in agriculture sector, urgent steps need to be taken to address the issues of low water availability and pest attacks which are hampering cotton production, yield and ultimately hampering our textile exports.

They said that price of manufactured goods of textile industry has resulted in a rise due to high cost of import. It means the largest export-oriented sector is facing more critical situation in the international market.

They urged the government to take measures on war footings to control the situation as entire economy would be dwindling if cotton production slips further. They suggested the government to get assistance from China if required.