OUR STAFF REPORTER ISLAMABAD - The first meeting of the Cotton Crop Assessment Committee, held under the chairmanship of Secretary Ministry of Textile Industry Shahid Rashid, has come to the conclusion that cotton production this year is expected to be 12.223 million bales. Representatives of the provincial governments, farmers, KCA, PCGA, APTMA, TCP, DPP, also attended the meeting. After a detailed deliberation on various aspects of cotton production the committee reached on an agreement that cotton crop of 12.223 million bales of 170 kg each i.e. 2.078 million tons is expected this year. Of this, Punjab is expected to achieve a yield of 9.750 million bales, Sindh after floods 2.4 million bales, Balochistan 0.069m bales and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa 0.004 million bales. Ministry of Textile Industry informed the participants that cotton crop was sown on an area of 0.65 million hectares in Sindh and 2.5 million hectares in Punjab. Moreover, this year cotton crop was planted on 0.67% and 12.25% above the targets area set for Punjab and Sindh province, respectively. Crop stand was good, CLCV disease incidence and pest attack was low as compared to the last year's and a bumper crop of about 15 million bales was expected, but recent rain and floods in Sindh damaged over 50,000 hectares which is more than 75% of cotton cultivated area of the province. Similarly, consistent rains in Punjab resulted in shedding of flowers and immature fruiting bodies on an area of about 12,000 hectares. It was also discussed that Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa is emerging as cotton growing area and a substantial increase in the cotton cultivated area in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank has been reported, whereas, this year over 100 acres of cotton was also planted in District Sawabi. Ministry also expected an increasing trend of cotton cultivation in the province after the commencement of Gomal Zam irrigation project which will irrigate 163 thousand acres. The representative of KP government asked APTMA to provide incentives to the poor growers in this area to enhance cotton production. In reply APTMA representative said that they were ready to provide free of cost seed to the growers of that area. Secretary Mintex Shahid Rashid also asked the PCGA to standardize the weight of bales according to international standards. The committee also decided to review these projected estimates of production on November 23, 2011 in its next meeting.