Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) on Thursday said low cotton output was hurting millions of families in the farming communities, which would ultimately affect exports and gross domestic product (GDP).
The country would miss the target of cotton production by 4.6 million bales necessitating imports worth $4 billion to keep textile industry running which would hit balance of payment situation and forex reserves, PBIF President Mian Zahid Hussain said in a statement here.
He said the cotton group, backbone of the national economy, needed immediate attention of the government as it held 8.5 per cent share in the GDP, fetched $12 billion through exports and provide jobs to 40 per cent of the labour, said
“The situation shouldn’t be allowed to take toll on sliding exports and drag down GDP by one per cent minimum,” he said adding that reasons behind the low cotton output included sudden and unpredictable rains, draught in some areas, low cotton prices and hike in prices of inputs by 15-20 per cent and use of substandard seed which had discouraged farmers.
He said that the sowing target of cotton was also missed as it was planted on 2.946 million hectares against the target of 3.122 million hectares which could result in disastrous consequences if the trend continued in future.
Mian Zahid Hussain lashed out authorities who discounted local wisdom to promote
so-called genetically modified seed terming it pest resistant which proved otherwise.
The imported seed failed to withstand pink bollworm and whitefly attacks while sprays and medicine to tackle the pests were not available in the market which played havoc with the crop, he added.
Calling immediate action, he said that delay could hurt the economy badly while the country might not remain the fourth largest producer of the cotton.
The cotton group was backbone of the country’s economy but for the last few years’ its production had declined due to apathy of authorities, substandard seeds, fake pesticides, droughts, floods, and erratic weather patterns, he noted.