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Promoting small cotton grower’s farmers and improved cotton picker labour condition can increase the production of cotton in Pakistan

A joint statement the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, Labour Education Foundation and Crofter Foundation 

The severe cotton crisis in Pakistan can only be averted by promoting small cotton growers and improved labour conditions for cortton pickers. Allthough Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world, however, it lags behind in its failiur to improve cotton production. The natural sustainabale crop system for cotton is need of the hour. This was stated jointly by Farooq Tariq general secretary Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, Khalid Mahmood director Labour Education Foundation and Saima Zia coordinator Crofter Foundation in a press release issued today.  

Pakistan has the third-largest cotton spinning capacity in Asia after China and India, with thousands of ginning and spinning units producing textile products from cotton. However, with government negligence, agriculture department wrong policies, with no impressive cotton research, the production is almost half of that of 2010 level. The country’s textile industry’s demand of about 14-15 million bales annually, while the country’s cotton production fell by 34.35 per cent to 5.571 million bales in 2020-21 against 8.487m bales produced in 2019-20.  

The state negligence towards cotton growers has meant that during  the year 2021-22, cotton was sown on 1.96 million hectares of land against a target of 2.32m hectares. Both Punjab and Sindh missed their plantation targets by 25.7 per cent and 16.7pc, respectively.  

The state negligence towards the functioning of Central Cotton Research Indsitute Multan had made sure that the cotton production will  decrease further in the next few years.This is shamefull act that Pakistan has become a cotton import country rather cotton export country as was the case in the past.  

The estimated at 8.46 million bales production this year  will remain short of the textile industry’s demand of about 14-15 million bales despite prospects of relatively higher production this year than the output of last year. 

The changing Climate pattern, harsh weather, pest attacks and poor quality seeds are also considered as main reasons that have adversely affected cotton. However, we see no effective effort to avoid these negative climate trends towards the cotton production. Add intensifying water crisis, increase in production costs and no minimum support price into the mix and the crop has little appeal for growers.  

Pakistan’s agriculture based on small landholding but the agriculture department gives less attention to these small cotton grower farmers. It is been proved by several researches that he small farmers were found to be the most vulnerable group with low returns on investments and low technical and economic efficiencies scores. The results also indicate that the financial constraints, difficulty to access agriculture credit, access to extension services, and lack of formal education are the main factors affecting farmer’s efficiency.  

Cotton picking has become a challenging task for farmers. Mostly women, seems reluctant to work under difficult conditions, mainly scorching heat, pesticide exposure and low wages. Farm workers and female cotton pickers are exposed to residual impacts of pesticide use in cotton production, in addition to dust, ultraviolet radiation. 

Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, Labour Education Foundation and Crofter Foundation in a joint statement demand that the government should regulate the input prices. The agriculture department should provide formal training to the small farmers to adopt better management practices to reduce the cost of production. The occupational safty & health should be ensure for cotton picker labour force. The three organizations further demand that government should devise a separate policy for small cotton growers’ farmers and its labour force.                   


Farooq Tariq, Khalid Mahmood and Saima Zia  

12 October 2021 

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2021




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