The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged the government to declare a cotton emergency in the agriculture sector as a fall in cotton production has started affecting the economic chain.

LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah, along with Senior Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan and Vice President Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry, told the media, after a meeting on Thursday, that the lower cotton production had impacted the textile sector, other industries directly or indirectly associated with it, ginners and growers.

The LCCI office-bearers said that textile was the largest export-oriented sector, contributing around 60% to total exports of the country.

Cotton production has declined persistently since 2017-18 when the harvest was 11.9 million bales. Production declined 17.5% to 9.8 million bales in 2018-19 and further dropped by 6.9% to 9.18 million bales in 2019-20.

They pointed out that cotton yield had also declined consistently since 2017-18 when it stood at 753 kg per hectare. They said that the steep decline in cotton production and yield was having an adverse impact on textile exports from Pakistan, which came down from $13.58 billion in 2018-19 to $12.78 billion in 2019-20.

Even in the first six months of current fiscal year (Jul-Dec 2020), the textile exports stood at $6.62 billion as compared to $6.82 billion in the same period of previous year (Jul-Dec 2019). The cotton import bill has also swelled due to the decline in domestic cotton production.

The LCCI officials were of the view that urgent steps were needed to address issues of low water availability and pest attacks, which were hampering cotton production, yield and ultimately textile exports.

They urged the government to take measures on war footing to control the situation as the entire economy would dwindle if cotton production slipped further.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2021.

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