KARACHI: Cotton import in Pakistan is expected to reach the record high of five million bales this year as local production of the industrial crop is estimated to decline 15 percent on high input prices and inclement weather, businessmen said on Tuesday.
“The country is in need to import at least five million bales worth $1.5 billion to meet the industrial requirements,” Kassim said, addressing a press conference. Aptma Sindh-Balochistan Region Chairman Zahid Mazhar and other office bearers of the association also accompanied him.
The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee last week slashed cotton output estimate by 24.2 percent over the initial official target of 13.46 million bales taking into account the challenges faced by the cotton crop especially high input prices, insect pests pressure and higher temperature. The revised production estimate would be 15 percent down from 12 million bales produced last year. Previously, the 15 million bales estimate was also doing the rounds in the official circle. Aptma chairman said textile industry’s representatives had met with the Prime Minister Imran Khan last month and discussed the ‘critical’ issues. “Action on some advises is being taken, while progress on some proposals is slow,” he said. Kassim said nearly 30 to 35 percent crop has already arrived in ginning factories till September 30, which was 27 percent down compared to the corresponding period last year and 33 percent lower against the government estimates, Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association’s data showed.
Aptma chairman said cotton prices are on an upward trend in the local market as there is a decline in quantity and quality.
Inam Bari of Aptma said import of cotton with long staple length, which is not produced in the country, should be allowed duty-free. Cotton continued to be imported without 11 percent duty and taxes till July this year, but the government restored the taxation to support farmers.
Mazhar said the country recorded 14.8 million bales in 2014/15 with 850 kilograms/hectare yield. Yield in Sindh was 700 kg and 550 kg in the Punjab. “But since then there has been a decline in the production because of low yield,” he added.
Aptma advised the government to work on research and development of cottonseeds, as yield has dropped to an alarming level. Aptma representatives said production of sugarcane in cotton-growing areas and poor quality seeds are marring the status of cotton –once called the white gold in the country.