3 Million cotton bales shortfall
By NADEEM SHAH
MULTAN: The single crop country has again been facing a
great threat of shortage of three million bales of Phuthi in
the current Kharif crop season which is almost 30pc less
from the targeted production mainly due to failure in
combating with pest Mealy Bug and curl virus attacks, said
The peasants of land of five rivers complained that they did
not consult in policy making as the exact pesticide against
Mealy Bug infestation was not available in the market or the
alternates were available on very high rates due to lack of
The Vehari, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur is known to
bumper crop production areas but the Mealy Bug has destroyed
the crop in these areas while Mailsi remained fully damaged.
The lionsí share of Punjab production mainly depends upon
these districts but major portion of crop has destroyed
An experienced Multan based grower Siddique Akbar Bukhari
predicted production not more then 11 million bales instead
target of 14.2 million bales leaving shortage of 3 million
bales. The experiment of Bt cotton sowing has failed in
practice, which had almost covered 75pc of under cultivated
area this year in result of poor research and planning. He
said the pest Mealy Bug critically attacked the crop and the
Punjab Directorate of Pest Warning and Quality Control
figures claimed 43pc and 73pc CLCV attack on cotton
Cotton growers from Mailsi, Sahiweal, Pakpattan, Liaquatpur,
Jampur and Gojra complained bearing Rs 1500 additional
expenses on each acre on purchasing pesticides on double
rates due to severe Mealy Bug attack.
The Kehror Pacca based grower Khurshid Ahmed Kanjoo said the
international cotton market is touching at high scale with
Rs 1500 per maund and if it is calculated with 3 million
bales shortage than Rs 5.4 billion would have to spent on
import to meet required target of 15 million bales of 1815
textile and ginning units, growers said.
Kanjoo said international lint cotton rates touching to Rs
3250 to Rs 3300 but the textile millers forcing them to sell
on Rs 3100 per maund. The millers argue them that if growers
would sell their produce in the international market they
would have to bear Rs 150-200 export charges so they must
sell their produce to textile mills on Rs 3100, he said.
The agriculture statistics sources revealed that cash crop
cotton was sown on 8 million acres of land around the
country including Punjab under cultivated area of 6.2
million acres with the production target of 14.2 million
bales and lionís share of Punjab production of 11 million
Former speaker national assembly Syed Fakhar Imam told this
scribe that the incidence of mealy bug attack is widespread
in Punjab and Sindh which is the major cotton growing areas
of the country and the attack has already affected the
cotton production in the country.
Imam said the non-availability of proper pesticides against
mealy bug is the major problem to prevent from the pest on
permanent basis. He said the government has failed to adopt
the necessary measures to minimize the mealy bug threat even
though the threat has been present in the cotton crop for
the last three years.
Farm experts said the mealy bug has become a great threat to
cash crop cotton after cotton leaf curl virus because it
comes in 3-4 layers, and the insect lays eggs and hatches
them in a natural basket attached to its body, he said. It
multiplies rapidly as eggs are hatched in 6-10 hours.
The AgriForum Pakistan chairman Ibrahim Mughal was of the
view that no grower could be consulted in policy making at
any level and there were no precautionary measures at
government level on pest attack especially Mealy Bug and
CLCV. He said the target of acreage was achieved and the
crop was in better position but mealy bug attack destroyed
the fields due to poor planning.
The Central Cotton Research Institute Multan director
Muhammad Arshad was of the view that cotton was sown on less
area leaving acreage target unfulfilled which would be the
major cause in production shortfall.
However, Mughal said the government didnít take any measure
to control re-occurrence of Mealy Bug as a consequence of
which the same insect has affected the crop this year
affecting 4-5 times more crop than last year.
The occurrence of Mealy Bug has not only curtailed the crop
size, it also has increased the farmersí production cost,
who are forced to apply 3-4 sprays of insecticides to kill
it and control the damage, by spending Rs 1,000 per acre,
The Kabirwala based cotton grower Syed Zahid Hussein Gardezi
said that almost 50pc small growers are the prime victims of
crop destruction and pest attack while the agriculture
researchers remained fail in combating with pest attack.
He said the dangerous sign is that pests of different crops
moving and migrating from mother crops to other as the Mealy
Bug was infect a mango pest but it had transferred in
Cotton growers maintained that mealy bug was spotted on the
cotton crop three years back in Pakistan but it did not
cause much loss to the crop. None of the research institutes
could identify it or suggest measures to completely
eliminate it, while Central Cotton Research Institute Multan
initiated research and suggested preventive measure
peasants. The insect was sent to England for identification.
A senior research official disclosed that mealy bug attack
is three years old but the Federal government has sanctioned
a 15 months project in June 2006 after much delay. The
official said that a mega project would be imitated later,
on mealy bug and the researcher was of the view delay on
research leave losses to growers.
The Central Cotton Research Institute Multan director
Muhammad Arshad said that all the agriculture departments
remained fully engaged in campaign against pest attack and
growers were informed timely. However, he said the shortfall
is estimated at 12.8 million bales, leaving 1.2 million
bales shortfall into 14 million bales target fixed last
Courtesy: Business Recorder