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Cotton cultivation hit by floods & mealy bug
Aug '08
Storming rains nearly devastated cotton crop in major areas of Punjab, Pakistan. Cultivation on 7.8 million acre of land was destroyed by heavy spells which will create a shortage of 300,000 bales for the country this season.

According to Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), floods ruined standing crop in Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Tajal, Kot Mittan, Mirpur Dewan, Jampur and adjoining areas.

Additionally, crops on 2 million acre of land in Sindh region have also been damaged due to mealy bug attack. As a consequence, the 14.5-15.0 million bales of target set by the Federal Government will no longer be attainable.

Besides, crop cultivation would also be less than the set target for this Kharif season due to delay in release of water from the dams. In order to escape from incurring heavy loss, farmers turned towards rice and sunflower cultivation as a substitute to cotton.

Virus attack coupled with recent rainfalls have affected about 35 percent of the crop in interior Sindh and other areas including Sanghar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Badin and Umerkot. Most of these crops were at an advanced stage and were almost ready for plucking. This apart, regions like Digri, Naukot, Sukkur, Khairpur and Nawabshah were attacked by mealy bug and at a time when 90 percent of BT cotton crop (nearly 45 percent of the county's total cultivation is under BT cotton variety) was at the maturity level.

To make matters worse, water level at dams like Chasma and Mangla were not very encouraging, especially at a time when it was badly needed for cultivation. It is difficult to see how the country would manage to meet a shortfall of 4.4 million bales is such adverse conditions. Imports have mounted in the past couple of years and if the situation remains unchanged, Pakistan will have to once again depend on foreign sources to meet its domestic demands.

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