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Cotton under severe pest attack.

LAHORE -- Pakistan Kisan Ittehad (PKI) President Khalid Mahmood Khokhar says cotton growers say that the crop has come under severe pest attack because of inclement weather and farmers' inability to properly apply pesticides and fertilizers.

'Cotton crop is under attack of pests, especially white fly, thrips and pink bollworm, due to weather conditions and growers' financial incapacity to counter the menace by applying appropriate quantity of pesticides and fertilizers,' Mr Khokhar said, adding the pest attack was so severe that it may drastically cut lint yield.

In a statement issued here on Tuesday, he says that cotton prices have been on the downslide for the last two weeks and are touching as low as Rs2,500 per 40kg of phutti (raw cotton) in Sindh and Rs2,800 to Rs3,200 in Punjab, far below to the cost of cultivation. Cotton growers are not making any money out of cotton production and thus have lost interest and financial capacity to apply pesticide and fertilizer.

'This is the reason that the white gold is under severe attack of the whitefly, thrips and pink bollworm and is turning into black due to subsequent development of sooty mold on affected leaves.

PKI demands support price

He says the PKI has repeatedly been demanding the government announce cotton support price to save the growers from losses and ultimately the industry, while the parliament has also passed a resolution and a Special Committee on Agriculture, headed by the National Assembly speaker, has a couple of months ago recommended announcing support price or intervention price and imposing duty on import of raw cotton.

Unfortunately, all recommendations of highest forum and demands of the PKI have been thrown into dustbin as higher authorities delayed the decision on import duty (the notification is not issued yet) and put the issue of support price on back burner, Mr Khokhar laments.

'The apprehensions projected by the PKI have proved as true and the country has to pay for either not taking or delaying the decision. This will have long-term implications and leaning hope for survival of dying cotton crop in the coming seasons.'

He says the government and agriculture department have lost their credibility because of their 'shortsightedness' or 'intentional wrong advises' by some vested interests influencing the government decisions.

He urged the prime minister to take notice of it and make non-elected people accountable for this chaos otherwise cotton growers may turn to some other crop from next year.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Aug 21, 2019
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