Cotton production stood at 6.85 million bales

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LAHORE: The country’s cotton production stood at 6.85 million bales as of Nov 15, a year-on-year growth of 70 per cent, according to the latest data issued by Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) on Thursday.

During the same period a year ago, cotton ginning factories across the country received four million bales. PCGA stats show Punjab has so far produced 3.41m bales while Sindh stands a little ahead with 3.44m bales.

Stakeholders in Punjab, however, dispute the 3.41m figure and contend that the provincial crop reporting estimates put the production at 5.148m bales.

“There are two factors that suppress the provincial performance. One, Punjab weighs its bales differently than the PCGA. The second factor is gross under-reporting,” explained an official of the provincial agriculture department.

“A number of ginners are millers as well and they prefer to under-report figures for tax reasons. Last year, Punjab produced 5.04m bales, whereas the PCGA’s figures put the production at 3.5m bales,” he said.

However, a former PCGA official defended the figures and data collection method.

“Provincial figures can go erratic, not those of the PCGA,” said Aman Ullah Qureshi, a former chairman of the association. “Punjab’s crop reporting service largely depends on acreage and yield sampling. The yield fluctuates wildly, depending on the farmer, his farm practices, ecology and weather in a particular season. However, the PCGA takes into account what actually comes inside the factory gates, which simply cannot go wrong.”

“The association also is not concerned about the origin of the crop. Cross-border trade does happen and a huge quantum of crop travels from Punjab to Sindh at different stages of production and processing,” Mr Qureshi said. “Those who doubt the PCGA figures should create their own systems of calculations and make them credible enough to be the basis of national planning.”

However, the Punjab Agriculture Department official insisted that the official reference was only those figures issued by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, which was hoping for a production of 9.37m bales, with Punjab contributing 5.148m bales.

Almost 80pc to 90pc picking has already been completed in the province and the final (third) picking is nearing completion. Only 10pc to 15pc more bales would hit the market even if small contributions from Balochistan are also factored in. “By the PCGA’s logic, the country may not arrive at the figures of 9.37m bales,” the official said.

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