Damage estimated at 10-50% of crop in fields, which may lead to heavy imports The widespread heavy rainfall is feared to have played havoc with the standing crop of cotton in Pakistan. Initial and rough estimates suggest the downpour has damaged 10% to 50% of crops in fields, mostly in Sindh.

Rains take toll on cotton crop

Rains take toll on cotton crop, Estimates of losses suggest the country will return to the international market to make heavy imports of the commodity this year to run textile mills, which earn around 60% of the total export proceeds of the country. The heavy rainfall has left a large number of people homeless and hurt their cattle in Sindh. The cattle comprises almost half of the agronomy in Pakistan. On the contrary, the water-resilient sugarcane and paddy (rice) crops are hoped to have largely survived the torrential rainfall nationwide. “National space agency Suparco’s (Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission) data and satellite images suggest water has inundated (the fields), mostly in Sindh,” Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) Vice President Dr Muhammad Ali Talpur said while talking to The Express Tribune. It is too early and very difficult to project crop losses at this point in time when a rain spell is in progress. Anyhow, “the initial, verbal and rough estimates suggest the nation has lost 10-15% of cotton crop due to the ongoing downpour,” he said. “Almost 95% of the crop, estimated at 10.5 million bales of cotton, is in the fields at present.” Most of the rain-related losses are feared in Sindh, which produces almost 30% of the total crop in the country. Punjab, which produces the rest of the 70% cotton crop, has received slightly heavy rainfall and may have largely survived with limited losses,

Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association’s (PCGA) former chairman Jassu Mal Leemani said, “It has been raining non-stop for the past two days in upper Sindh. Yesterday, torrential rains put almost the entire cotton crop at high risk in the fields.” He elaborated that cotton could not survive if it remained in one-foot water for about 24 hours while two to three feet rainwater was present in the fields for the past two to three days. “Cotton plants have disappeared in the rainwater. We fear at least 50% losses, mainly in Sindh. Farmers in Punjab are also reporting rain-related losses, but not as heavy as in Sindh,” he said. The heavy rainfall has taken several lives. “The rainfall has left a large number of people and their cattle homeless in Sindh.” The share of agriculture in the economy stands at around 20%, while half of the 20% comprises cattle.

Rains take toll on cotton crop, Leemani projected that the country would barely produce 5 million to 6 million bales of cotton this year compared to the pre-rainfall estimate of 9 million bales. “Pakistan has to import around 8 million bales to meet textile mills’ demand this year,” he anticipated. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the country imported 776,394 tons of cotton worth $1.83 billion in the previous fiscal year ended June 30, 2022. Pakistan has produced 8.4 million bales in FY22 against the domestic need of 15-16 million bales. Earlier, the water shortfall at the start of current cotton season had prevented farmers from sowing cotton seeds on time and they missed the sowing target by a notable margin in Sindh, both the officials said. Talpur said Sindh used to sow cotton seeds at 1.6 million to 1.7 million hectares of land in the past. But this year, they cultivated the seeds only on 1.5 million hectares. Farmers in Punjab sowed the seeds at a larger area of land at 3.5 million hectares this year compared to 3.2 million hectares in previous years, Farmers could pick a nominal amount of cotton in the Southern part of Sindh where they sow early harvesting crop of the commodity. Talpur, who is having a vast experience in the agriculture economy, said sugarcane and paddy (rice) remain resilient to downpours and hoped they would largely survive the recent rain. Punjab produces a large amount of the crops too and the crops have mostly remained unaffected by the rainfall. Leemani said ginners have received cotton-flower (phutti) of around one million to 1.2 million bales of cotton at their factories. They may receive another 5 million bales during the rest of the season.

Source: This news is originally published by tribune

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