Cotton match: Pakistan vs. India

Pakistan was born in 1947 with a smaller base of textile industry consuming only 78,000 bales of 170-kgs each but producing a larger cotton crop of 1.1 million 170-kg bales and exporting almost more than 90 percent of its season’s production. Against this, India was born with a broad-based textile sector consuming around 4.4 million 170-kg bales while producing a smaller cotton crop 2.3 million bales and meeting its shortfall through cotton imports.

As such, Pakistan started its career in cotton as an exporting country while India started its career as an importing country. Pakistan inherited corporate farming system along with its individual/ family farming.

Most of the corporate farming was owned and controlled by British companies which also operated a large number of ginning factories apart from running export houses for exporting raw cotton.

The Government of Pakistan launched broad-based industrial policies giving incentives of softloans, relaxation in taxes, availability of comparatively cheaper cotton by levying export duties on raw cotton and other benefits to the private sector for establishing spinning units to increase cotton consumption and producing cloth and other textile products to meet country’s demand.

Resultantly, spinning capacity went on increasing and in 1960 our domestic cotton requirements increased to I.45 million 170-kg bales, in 1970 to 2.58, in 1980 to 2.354, in 1990 to 6.563 in 2000 to 10.048, in 2002 to II.264 million 170-kg bales and finally in 2007-2008 total domestic consumption of cotton is estimated between 15.5 and 16.0 million 170-kg bales.

Simultaneously, in cotton production, new technologies were adopted and production also registered increase year to year and in 1991-92. Pakistan produced a record high crop of 12.8 million bales while in 2000-2001, Pakistan’s cotton production and consumption was almost equal around 10.45 million bales. It is natural but also worth mentioning that size of cotton crop widely fluctuated mostly because of weather, seed and attack of pest and diseases while cotton consumption almost remained increasing consistently.

The worst failure of cotton crop was seen in 1983-84 when its production was at 2.777 million bales against last year 1982-83 crop of 4.658 million bales (40 percent decrease) and but next year in 1984-85 crop size jumped to record high level of 5.776 million bales (108 percent increase).

In 60 years period from 1947-48 to 2007-2008, Pakistan produced top largest cotton crop of 14.30 million 170-kg bales in 2004-2005 and second largest one of 12.8 million bales in 1991-92 and third one of 12.5 million bales in 2005-2006. Pakistan made largest export of 4.5 million bales in 1988-89 and the second largest one of 4.08 million bales in 1985-86. Although Pakistan practically started importing cotton from 1993-94 but after 2000-2001, Pakistan’s position was shifted from cotton exporting country to cotton importing country. After 2000, spinning capacity increased by leaps and bounds and so domestic cotton consumption and in 2007-2008, it is estimated between 15.5 and 16.0 million 170-kg bales.

Unfortunately, our crop failed this season (2007-2008) and crop size is estimated around 9.0 million 170-kg bales against initial target of 13.64 million 170-kg bales (Ex-farm target was 14.14 million 170-kg bales); shortfall being 27.4 percent against last season’s crop. This season, we may have to import more than 5.0 million 170-kg bales to meet our domestic requirement of 15.5 million bales. India had been net cotton importing country till 2000-2001 and it adopted new seed, irrigation and other farm technologies to boost its production and productivity.

Resultantly, since 2004-2005 to the current season 2007-2008, India has been producing record crops every season and in 2007-2008 season its production is estimated around 31.0 million 170-kg bales the best crop in 60 years. India’s total domestic requirements this season are estimated around 25.0 million bales, leaving surplus of 6.0 million bales.

Last year, India exported 5.5 million bales and this season around 6.0 million is expected. India has achieved high productions mostly by increasing its yield and not increasing its area under cotton. India improved its lint yield from 275 in 2000-2001 to 570 kgs per hectare (It is less than half of lint yield in China) in 2007-2008 while Pakistan’s yield decreased from 632 in 2000-2001 down to 470 kgs per hectare in 2007-2008. Thus in last 8 years, India improved its yield by more than 107 percent while in the same period Pakistan’s lint yield decreased by 10 percent. In comparison with Pakistan, India improved its yield by 117 percent in 8 years. If India maintains its growth rate of 10 percent, it may cross China’s present level of cotton production equivalent to 46.0 million 170-kg bales in next 5 years (2012-2013) and may achieve production level of 50 million 170-kg bales in next 7 years by 2015, occupying position of top most cotton producing country of the world pushing China down to second position while it had already taken second position in world cotton production pushing USA down to third position in 2006- 2007. It appears quite difficult for India to match its kgs 570 perhectare yield with Chinese yield of over kgs 1200 per hectare. Pakistan is the fourth largest cotton producing country and would become the second largest importing country this season while India has the largest area under cotton in the world around 9.0 million hectares, is the second largest in world production, second largest in raw cotton exports and the second largest in raw cotton consumption in the world.

On the basis of above mentioned performance, all umpires agree to declare India as winner.

This article may be inconclusive without offering some suggestions for improving Pakistan’s performance in the field of cotton and these are as under:

1. A broad-based inquiry commission should be formed to analyze the cause of retardation in cotton production and productivity.

2. Pakistan should adopt biotechnology in seed breeding to produce hybrid seeds particularly Bt seed varieties and immediate arrangements be made to replace the present poor quality deteriorated seed by new and promising varieties of seed.

3. The present set up of agriculture extension in provinces should be re organized on scientific lines to make them result-oriented.

4. Justification of keeping the existing research centers/ institutes/ organizations should be examined and these should be reorganized on the basis of real needs.

5. A monitoring cell should be established under Federal Ministry of Agriculture to examine the operation of different agriculture departments/institution with reference to performance of given targets.

6. System of rewards and punishments should be introduced in all departments to improve operational efficiency of the workers.

7. All ginning units should be updated and modernized so as to improve quality of ginning and to standardize ginning system.

8. Cotton Standardization should be introduced immediately at ginning stage to improve lint quality to international standards.

9. Agricultural loan policies should be farmer-friendly and should be result-oriented as existing policies have become stale and unproductive.

Pakistan is a single crop economy as exports of cotton and cotton made products earn 65 percent of total annual export earnings. As such, promotion of cotton means promotion of exports while failure of cotton crop tantamount to heavy damage to Pakistan economy. It would be difficult for our textile industry to compete textile giants like China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Sri Lanka in export of textiles when we have to import a larger amount of cotton to meet shortfall of our cotton requirements.

Courtesy Business Recorder

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique
Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

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