Dr. Khalid Abdullah
Cotton Commissioner Ministry of Textile Industry of Pakistan
As of now, what is the greatest challenge for the cotton producers across the globe?
• Limited access to advanced seed technology.
• Rising cost of inputs especially seed, fertilizer, agro-chemicals etc. are pushing farmers towards alternate crops which give better returns.
• Global warming (rising temperatures, heavy rains/floods) affect cotton production .
• Provision of government support to cotton farmers in advanced countries affecting cotton production in less-developed countries.
• Stagnation in cotton yields despite use of advanced technologies
• Increasing fibre mix suppressing cotton demand and lowering prices.
• Widening gap between cotton supply and rising demand
• And last but not the least is the decreasing comparative advantage over other crops, especially in developing countries.
The economies across the globe are facing a tough time. In such a situation, what are the challenges faced in cotton marketing and selling?
Pakistan consumes more than 95% of its production, however for marketing of its semi finished and finished textile products has remained challenge as global economies are suppressing. The local textile industry is facing challenges like power shortage, unavailability of trained manpower, unpredictable prices etc which are major hindrance in compliance by the exporters to their buyers. Default of contracts is another global issue making the cotton market fragile. However, I personally think standing on your commitment and no compromises on quality is the best tool to deal with global recession and gaining the customers confidence.
The industrialists of Pakistan are very close to my heart, as I see them struggling for power issue, they have all the power generation sources installed to honour commitments of deliveries. Their production cost has risen due to investments in power sources.
The area under cotton cultivation is decreasing across the globe. Do you think it is a matter of worry?
According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), USA, the world average area stood at 32.620 million hectares (1980-1990), 30.240 million hectares (1990-2000), 32.623 million hectares (2000-2010) and average cotton area for this decade has also been projected to be 33.808 million hectares. So, the historical trends clearly depict that world cotton acreage during the last four decades remained almost the same with slight change.
Moreover, cotton is in competition not only with synthetic fibre but also with food crops as well, which has competitive advantage over cotton. Rise in population with expansion in urbanization is also leading to shrinking of crops area including the cotton crop and more area for food crops to feed the growing population.
Ministry of Commerce & Textile Industry, Government of Pakistan is taking measures for boosting cotton production in the country. For the purpose, The Government is also taking steps for enhancing cotton acreage especially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) is strengthening its network of Cotton Research Station in these provinces for testing of cotton varieties in these agro-ecological zones.
What are the latest technological advancements which have helped the cotton industry/sector?
Rapid expansion in cultivation of transgenic cotton which has helped increasing cotton production, reducing input cost of pesticides and above all enhancing returns. The benefit of the technology is evident from its rapid adoption. The research work is underway for exploring new traits for enhancing cotton production by using this technology. Water being a scaring resource was given due attention and water saving cotton production technology “Bed Furrow” introduced and cotton grower adopted it very rapidly. Other water saving methods like drip/sprinkler irrigation system are also under trial for cotton production. Realization of micronutrient deficiency by the growers and they are getting benefit by applying micronutrient at various stages of plant growth. Automation and other advancement in ginning process not only improved its efficiency, saving fibber, but also reducing cost of doing business by optimizing the power input. Development and introduction of efficient and accurate testing equipment helped the cotton sector a lot.
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