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Losses in early cotton sowing   
By Mohammad Hussain Khan

May 16, 2011: COTTON growers in lower Sindh especially in Sanghar district have suffered germination losses owing to questionable variety of seeds and very early crop sowing. Many of them are cultivating the crop afresh,
incurring extra expenditure.

According to estimates of the agriculture department officials, 35 per cent of the area normally set for cotton crop has so far been brought under cultivation.

“The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) has not set the target for the current year’s cotton production so far amidst report that agriculture is now a devolved subject and its job would be carried out by provincial agriculture departments.

For the same reason the FCA’s meeting has not been held as yet, says Amin Thebo, an official of the crop reporting services.

He says last year cotton was cultivated over a target area of 650,000 hectares in Sindh, but the unprecedented floods ruined the crop over a vast area on the right bank’s katcha and settled areas reducing it to 475,000 hectares.

There are various reasons behind the damage to the current crop such as unusual climatic conditions particularly northern winds, the unsuitable sowing period, and the quality of seed.

Sowing of cotton is recommended in early April in the lower region of Sindh. But in the current season, cotton growers started its cultivation as early as February and March after persuasion by seed providers, who claimed that early sowing would give a better yield.

 


“I myself opted for Tarzan-I variety of BT cotton which is an early maturing variety with 100 maund per acre yield. But the weather did not support the crop,” says Thebo. Growers had sown the seed in March but its germination was badly affected.

Sanghar is an important district for cotton production, and according to official figures, this district cultivates over 135,500 hectares. But the growers of the district are also complaining of huge losses owing to early sowing of the crop and are re-cultivating the crop.

In other cases, cultivators were filling the gaps in their lands where seed germination had been affected, and are incurring extra expenditure on seed, labour and other outputs. In several cases, growers were told to sow 701 seed, a variety of BT cotton that reportedly yields 100 maunds per acre, but it did not work and the growers suffered huge losses.

 

“There is a tendency among many cotton growers that they do not clear their lands of cotton crop and keep them intact till the next Kharif season as clearing of cotton fields and preparing them for the Rabi wheat requires lot of investment. They keep picking cotton from the fields regardless of the quantity as even one maund of cotton per acre gives them reasonable income as compared to wheat,” says Haji Nadeem Shah of Matiari. The growers got Rs4,600 – 4775 per 40 kg for last year’s cotton, he added.

According to estimates, land preparation and per acre sowing of cotton requires between Rs30,000-35,000 including cost of diesel, tractor and pesticides. This year this will increase further in view of recent hike in petroleum and fertiliser prices.

Farmers in many cases do not grow wheat to avoid cost of inputs and feel comfortable even with minimum possible per acre yield of cotton till December. In the next Kharif season they go for fresh cotton crop cultivation,” says a Mirpurkhas-based cotton grower Mir Zafarullah Talpur. He also reports similar sort of damages to cotton crop in other parts of Mirpurkhas region.

Amanullah Shah of Sanghar district says, “I have ploughed land afresh where germination on below 25 per cent area is affected.” He has cultivated cotton over 60-70 acres. Growers used seeds 506 and 121 that gave the required germination results,” he says. “We will fill the gaps where seed germination has been poor,” he says.

Under the existing circumstances the growers have no option but to go for late sowing of cotton crop. Niaz Hussain Bodani of Sanghar used Sitara 008 for the first time and it failed to give the required result on 13 acres out of 35 acres on early sowing. “Normally, we sow cotton in April, he says.

“Cotton requires moderate weather and preferably spring season. Abnormal recent weather conditions( when temperature remained unusually high during March) played a critical role in the germination of seed and consequently damaged the crop, he says.

Courtesy: The DAWN

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