Pakistan sees 43% decline in cotton stockpiling

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A Reuters representational image.

Pakistan's cotton stockpiling sharply declined by 43% to 3.45 million bales in October, raising concerns that the country would have to spend $3 billion to import at least 7.0 million bales to fulfil domestic demand, The News quoted industry officials on Tuesday. 

The last report by Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) said the country's cotton stockpiling stood at 6.09 million bales last year in October as heavy monsoon along with sowing substandard seeds took a toll on total yields.

Punjab saw a decline of 45% in cotton production, bringing the stocks from 3.16 million bales in October last year to 1.7 million this year. The production decreased in Sindh by 41% - the stocks stand at 1.7 million bales compared to last year's 2.92 million bales. 

Karachi Cotton Brokers Association Chairman Naseem Usman said a decline of 2.6 million bales in cotton arrivals was a point of concern. “Total expected cotton arrivals are around 5.5 million bales, and there would be need to import at least 7.0 million bales, as consumption demand of local mills was around 14 million bales.”

Fortnightly flows (October 15-31) remained down by 54% at 763,997 bales against flows of 1.65 million bales during the same period last year.

Till October 2020, textile companies bought 2.5 million bales while exporters bought 17,600 bales (down 58 percent from 41,960 bales last year). Mills have acquired 2.57 million bales, which showed a decline of 42% from last year’s 4.42 million bales.

Stakeholders said the major reason behind steep fall in production of cotton was unavailability of good quality seeds, absence of new seed technology, heat waves, climate change, and pest attacks.

Mirpur Khas and Sanghar districts in Sindh incurred huge losses on account of heavy monsoon rains. As a result, the province suffered 25% crop loss. In Punjab, the affected districts were DG Khan, Muzzafar Garh, Rajanpur and Multan.

Despite the fact that cotton is an important cash crop, which contributes significantly to the national economy by providing raw material to the local textile industry, as well as cotton lint for export, policy makers failed to introduce quality seeds in the country.

Currently, 864,245 bales are in stocks with ginners, down 47%, compared to 1.62 million bales last year.

In the last decade, cultivation in core cotton zones declined due to unwarranted increase in sugarcane production. With setting up of sugar factories in core cotton districts including Multan, Lodhran, Khanewal, Vehari, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and RY Khan, cotton area under cultivation has been on the decline, further reducing output in the country.

On the other hand, plantations of cotton in non-core districts like Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Okara, Sahiwal and Pakpattan faced massive pest attack due to obsolete production technology and impure seeds.