RAHIM YAR KHAN

Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association member Ihsanul Haq has expressed concerns over the a steep fall in cotton and wheat production due to rising sugarcane crop area and delay in start of crushing.

He said that ecological changes due to expanded sugarcane area may trigger virus attack on cotton crop. He added that despite declaring cotton crop zones by the Punjab and Sindh governments, the establishment of new sugar mills continued thereby shrinking the cotton crop area in major cotton zones of Rahim Yar Khan, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Ghotki, Khairpur and Nawab Shah. He further added that during the year 2010-11, the cotton crop area in Punjab was 6.7 million acres and in Sindh nearly 2.0 million acres but now the cotton area has been gradually reduced to 5.7 million acres and 1.4 million acres respectively. The increase in sugarcane area is changing ecology and inducing suffocation favourable for virus attack on cotton. It may result in lower cotton yields and poor quality of cotton produce, he said.

He explained that according to the Cane Act, the sugar mills must start up to 31st of October in Sindh province and up to 30th of November in Punjab province the process but the sugar mills were using delaying tactics. He said that farmers may not sow wheat after cutting the sugarcane crop and may be forced to again cultivate sugarcane.  After a few years, Pakistan will be forced to import huge quantity of wheat to feed its population, he feared.

He further said that despite restrictions, new sugar mills have been set up in Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab and Ghotki district of Sindh and production capacity of already existing sugar mills had been enhanced. He said that a writ petition filed by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association is still pending with the Lahore High Court since a long time.