The cotton factor


Ghulam Rabbani & Company is an exporting and indenting company. It enjoys a credible market share in imports and exports of raw cotton, textile machineries, yarns and made-ups. It is running its operations in US, UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

To this question, Ghulam Rabbani, Chief Executive Officer of Ghulam Rabbani & Co. said he is quite optimistic in this regard. Pakistan he said has the best cotton spinning industry that is the 3rd largest in the world. While Pakistan is the 4th largest cotton producer, and the country’s cotton production is expected to flourish in the coming years. He candidly said that if only North Korea operates as the sole market for Pakistani textile products, it would suffice for the cotton industry. While citing a research report, he said total 47 per cent people in India use double beds, and that could be another avenue for Pakistani textiles. If 10 per cent of the Indian population buy Pakistani bed-sheets, that would be enough for our textile industry. He emphasized that India also needs us for multiple reasons like currency disparity, lower cost of logistics etc. and these are facts that cannot be ignored for developing mutual trade opportunities of both the countries. Water scarcity, land salinity, depleting area of cultivation are problems faced by the cotton sector, which might have debilitating effects on the industry in the long run.

He said that BT cotton is cultivated on a large area of Pakistan and it badly affects the fertility of soil, as it consumes maximum nutrients. However he added that we don’t have any alternative to this. He informed Pakistan Today that the country had record 12.7 million bales in 1991-92 with the help of local cotton seeds, and even in 2004-05 an outstanding figure of 14.2 million bales was achieved by dint of local cotton seeds, so he said it is hard to comprehend why there has been so much emphasis on BT cotton cultivation.

Talking about price fluctuations of cotton, he said it is the international community that has an impact on prices. He said China plays a key role in affecting cotton prices as it has a major share of cotton imports therefore, this goes side by side to their demand and preference. He said that our exports are only value-based, and they need to be volume based in order for them to have some real impact. He further said that food commodities are expecting a severe price hike and analysts anticipate a recession in the years to come, yet the government has not taken any steps to tackle the issue.

Mr Rabbani said that Pakistan has enough water for its consumption however the real issue is that of management of resources. Traditionally he said that the country has an agri-based economy, and before 1970 there were only rural-based development programmes. With the advent of increased urbanisation he said, the country is facing problems for the management of their resources.

Mr Rabbani was optimistic about this fiscal year, and said that our exports might touch $30billion figure. He was hopeful that Generalized System of Preference status would be a major boost for Pakistan. He said that the government needs to take adequate steps in safeguarding the textile industry of the country however the policy makers have always fell short of making a visionary budget.

Talking about the establishment of Pakistan’s first de-linting plant, he said that it is being set up with the help of shared foreign investment at Kotri, Sindh. He explained that with an initial investment of Rs134 million Nation Seeds Joint Venture Limited will start its production in September this year. ‘Its working capital turnover would be Rs5bn, and this unit has 50 per cent share of foreign investment including technical support,’ he said, adding that the unit is established at 267,000 square feet in the site area of Kotri, Sindh. ‘We are at commissioning phase now, which means that the country’s first de-linting plant is going to be a reality soon. It will create employment opportunities for around 200 people, and this program is environmental friendly which is why we moved to the site area,’ he added. He further said that Pakistan has 13 million tonnes consumption of edible oil annually against its local production of just 5m tonnes, so our production of edible oil through this delinting plant would help meet local demand of edible oil. This delinting plant will be the first unit of the country.
The process of delinting includes separation of lint from cotton seed (phutti) in the first stage that is called first cut, while the second stage is the process of de-hulling and the third process is crushing of plasma to extract 3 percent oil more from cotton seeds. It is to be noted that hull is used in animal feed and is an exportable commodity.
‘Total production of the unit will be 100 metric tonnes on a daily basis from linter unit (that is 1st cut), while the production from 2nd cut would be 67 metric tonnes of lint. 130 metric tonnes seed production along with 70 metric tonnes from the crushing unit is to be made.
Hull production would be 12 metric tonnes,’ he informed, adding that they are establishing a solvent plant to extract more oil from cotton seeds. Ghulam further said that traditionally lint is poorly separated from cotton seeds in the ginning factories of the country that leave the cotton seed with 37 per cent excess protein, which in later stages is used to produce animal feed.
This feed is very harmful for animals that humans consumer, consequently causing many dangerous diseases in people like kidney failure, abdominal paralyzing, high cholesterol and blood pressure, etc. ‘We are taking this initiative without any support which is why the risk factor is very big.
Yet we would start another plant if this is a success, as many people are ready to invest in this program,’ he said.