Multan—The agriculture department advised farmers to ensure neat and clean picking of cotton in order to get handsome return against their produce. In a statement here on Tuesday, Naveed Asmat Kohlun, Assistant Director Agriculture Information said that cotton was the most important cash crop of Pakistan. It is a major source of earning foreign exchange and livelihood to millions of people. Owing to lack of quality-based pricing system and non-practicing of the cotton standardization system, Naveed said that Pakistani raw cotton was being traded at low cost. In Pakistan, the contamination proportion is 20 grams per bale while the international market standard is only 2.5 grams per bale, he informed.
All Pakistan Textile Manufacturers Association (APTMA) estimated over $1.4 billion loss due to cotton quality, whereas National Textile University (NTU) in a study estimated over $4 billion loss because of cotton contamination, Kohlun said. He further stated that country’s cotton had large impurity content, trash water contents and was considered poor as per international standards. There was a need to remove such sort of impurities for gaining maximum returns, he added.
Contamination causes to produce low quality lint cotton, yarn and manufactured goods, he said and added that generally, the quality of cotton was determined by its colour, fiber length, strength, and finess. Among other factors, contamination affects the quality of cotton, Naveed said. A number of impurities like pieces of leaves, immature and empty bolls, stems, flowers, sticks, weeds, trash and dust also damage cotton quality and it happened due to careless picking, he stated.
Cotton picking should be started at the time when 50 per cent fully matured bolls are opened in the field, he said and added that lady pickers should be pursued to cover their heads to reduce the possibility of contamination of human hairs in the cotton. Wages to the pickers be made on the basis of picked quantity as well as cleanliness, he suggested. Similarly, use of jute bags, jute thread and poly propylene bags is illegal and actionable under law. Farmers must supervise the picking operation and allow picking from one side of the field, he said. Naveed observed that farmers should follow Met predictions before planning for picking of cotton, adding that in case of chances of rain, they should delay picking.