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Cotton production fell by 1.9 million bales last year compared to the bumper crop of 14.3 million bales in 2004-05 due to adverse weather conditions and unavailability of cheap
inputs to farmers particularly fertilisers and pesticides.
A 13 per cent decline in cotton production along with a 6.2 per cent negative growth in sugarcane, another major crop, badly hampered the overall growth of national economy last year as agriculture sector could only grew by 2.5 per cent compared to 6.7 per cent the year before.
Senior officials of commerce ministry, Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), the provincial and federal governments and representatives of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association
(APTMA), Karachi Cotton Association (KCA), Pakistan Cotton Ginners' Association (PCGA) and the growers were taken into confidence for setting the proposed cotton target.
It was decided that in order not to miss this year's target the government had to provide inputs to farmers well on time with special focus on pesticides and fertilisers. An action plan
intimating the responsibilities of stakeholders from various public and private sectors was also finalised for achieving the cotton target and to avoid untoward situations during the sowing, growth and marketing of the crop.
The food ministry also directed concerned organisations and departments to keep a close eye on the day to day situation of cotton crop and ensure availability of inputs.
The government had already enhanced the seed cotton intervention price to Rs1,025 per 40 kilogramme from Rs975 last year to safeguard the interest of the growers.
TCP would be inducted in the process whenever required to ensure that farmers received these rates.
Official sources said that farmers in southern Punjab were not getting the Rs415 per 40 kilogramme minimum price announced by the government for the procurement of wheat. There are also allegations of taking kickbacks and commissions by food department officials.
This year, wheat growers are not getting the minimum price for their crop which has increased the possibility of reduction in the wheat sowing area next year.
An inter-ministerial committee would regularly monitor the market prices and the payment of premium price to those who grow high quality cotton. This incentive is to discourage the growing of low quality and contaminated cotton.
To encourage the production of clean cotton, the Ministry of Textile and Industry will launch a special campaign in collaboration with TCP and
Pakistan Cotton Standard Institute (PCSI), provincial governments and stakeholders from the private sector to ensure that premium on better grade cotton seed is passed on to the farmers.
The question of the middlemen was raised at the recently held meeting of representatives of growers, who alleged that the money meant for the farmers was going into to the pockets of middlemen compelling them to stay away from quality cotton production, which cost them more.
The meeting also reviewed the cotton situation at global level. It was informed that the world's consumption of cotton was likely to surpass production by about 3 per cent that would likely to push prices up by 10 per cent in 2006-07.
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