Pakistan's cotton yield 50% lower than region.

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan is facing a sharp decline in cotton production as its per-acre yield has contracted to just half of the cotton productivity in regional countries.

Owing to thin profit margins for cotton planting, farmers have switched over to other crops like rice, maize and sugarcane. Economic policymakers have expressed serious concern over the constant decline in cotton production over the years.

In a recent meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), the policymakers and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar observed that the cotton sowing area was shrinking, which was a cause of concern for the government. Dar, who chairs the ECC meetings, pointed out that the per-acre cotton production in regional countries was double the per-acre harvest in Pakistan.

It was emphasised that the Ministry of National Food Security and Research would look into developing a support price mechanism in consultation with the Ministry of Industries and Production.

The ECC noted that for the cotton support price, the wheat and sugarcane model might be considered.

Commerce Division secretary underlined the need for adopting international principles as well as undertaking a study on the comparative advantages of crops.

The Ministry of National Food Security recalled that the production of cotton, being the key crop in Pakistan's agricultural economy, reached the high of 14.1 million bales in the 2004-05 season. However, in later years, its harvest averaged around 12 million bales while in the last four years, the output dropped to 7 million bales in 2020-21 and about 9.45 million bales in 2021-22.

Moreover, the unprecedented floods in 2022 significantly damaged the standing cotton crop, slashing overall production to a mere 4.76 million bales (according to cotton arrivals till March 3, 2023) against the target of 9 million bales.

The ministry stated that cotton production was decreasing and at the same time planting area was also shrinking. To meet the demand of textile industry, Pakistan has the potential to ramp up cotton production to 15 million bales in a short time span.

It was stated that the cotton price intervention policy during 2021-22 had resulted in price stability in the domestic market and higher investment in crop management, increasing production by 2 million bales despite a 7% decline in the cultivated area.

Similarly, the policy adopted in 2022-23 also ensured price stability in the domestic market. However, the unprecedented floods...

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