The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) has revised cotton production estimates to 10.847 million bales of 170 kg each for this season, down from earlier projections of 14.2 mn bales. The committee in its first meeting held in Islamabad recently dashed all hopes of harvesting a bumper cotton crop in 2018-19. The country’s overall cotton production has deteriorated over the years in turn affecting the gross domestic product. The country’s last bumper cotton crop of 14.9 mn bales was harvested in 2013-14. The decline in estimates for cotton production to 10.847 mn bales from 14.2 mn bales for the current season would push the harvest lower than last year’s production at 11.581 mn bales.

Under the revision, production in Sindh is expected to witness a shortfall of 1.4 mn bales to 2.6 mn bales. The province produced 4.253 mn bales in last season. However, making up for losses in Sindh, officials revised the estimates for Punjab up to 8.077 mn bales lifting the overall estimates for the season. Punjab produced 7.382 mn bales during the last season much lower than its historic record of producing around 10 mn bales.

Production estimates for Balochistan were also revised upward to 0.15 mn, which is higher than the last year’s output of 0.117 mn bales. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is expected to produce around 0.02 mn bales. The country’s cotton production has been under stress during the last four years as country mainly because of adverse effects of climate change and shortage of irrigation water and partly due to lack of attention to the declining output from the successive governments, observed Naseem Usman.

Cotton — semi-draught plant – can even survive in less irrigation water but the growers have to be educated and ensured of getting minimum required water for their cotton crop, he added. There is an urgent need to increase country’s water reservoir capacity and shift towards drip irrigation from the current flood irrigation which had been done away in many countries to conserve water, he maintained.