The country is likely to face massive shortfall in cotton production target of 15.49 million bales set for the current season (2015-16) after rains, floods and Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) attacks badly damaged the crop, official sources revealed to Business Recorder.

The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC) has twice downward revised the cotton production estimates to 13.38 million bales against the initial estimate of 15.49 million bales for the current season (2015-16). 

Sources revealed that the next meeting of the committee is going to be held next week where cotton production target will be revised downward again and may be set at 11.7 million bales.

Earlier cotton sowing target was missed by about 10 percent due to unprecedented rains during the early cotton sowing season. Due to low cotton price, the wheat harvest was prolonged and resultantly a significant decline in cotton sowing was registered; besides the heatwave had caused severe flower shedding in cotton crops areas.

Government had set cotton target for 2015-16 at 15.49 million bales from 7.7 million acres. Punjab was projected to produce 10.5 million bales from 6 million acres; however it missed the sowing target and grew cotton on 5.6 million acres registering a decline of about 6 percent. The monsoon rains, floods and standing water affected cotton crop on about 0.9 million acres and CCAC revised the production estimate downward to 9.3 million bales. However after the CLCV attacks, cotton crop was badly damaged and the projection is likely to be revised downward to 8.1 million bales in coming CCAC meeting.

Sindh was projected to produce 4.4 million bales from 1.6 million acres. The sowing was on 1.4 million acres thereby missing the target by 10 percent. After the monsoon rains and floods the production estimate was revised downward to 3.5 million bales as standing crops on about 0.3 million acres were damaged. The projected estimate is likely to be revised downward to 3 million bales after CLCV has badly affected the crop.

Balochistan is projected to produce 0.59 million bales from 0.1 million acres and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.0015 million bales from 0.001 million acres, with no significant changes.

The CLCV attacks had significantly declined during the last few years have increased this year. The attacks of mealy bug and CCLV on standing cotton crop have turned more severe in the country. The unavailability of certified seed, and use of pesticides not as per the requirement of the crop, has negatively impacted on crop output.

Dr Khalid Abdullah, Cotton Commissioner told Business Recorder that severe CLCV attacks in Sindh and especially in Punjab have been reported, which may negatively affect cotton production. He confirmed that sowing target was missed while standing water in crops after monsoon rains and floods have damaged the crop.

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