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Cotton prices bedevil farmers in Pakistan

The Punjab region of Pakistan wants farmer-friendly intervention from the government in the form of an indicative price and the procurement of two million bales to address the issue of low price. It is feared that even a 50 per cent sowing target may not be achieved if some such intervention doesn’t take place.

Cotton is Pakistan’s main foreign exchange earner and is the life line for the agrarian economy of Pakistan as it feeds the vital raw material for the entire value addition industry of cotton. But cotton farmers across the country have suffered huge losses in the previous two consecutive years. Last year, due to untimely rains and the pest attacks, farmers did not even recover half of the price of their cost of production. Given this scenario, farmers were generally reluctant to sow cotton during the current crop season.

Measures were undertaken to procure cotton during the crop year 2014-15 though this was not a well planned and timely intervention. Procurement began tardily and very poor quality lint was bought from ginning factories. This lint is still lying in warehouses, and it has become almost impossible to sell the stock at reasonable prices, although the middlemen are getting fair prices, by selling the same quality of lint at higher rates.