Cotton yields in Pakistan will soar this year, as the rising
cotton price encourages farmers to increase inputs, US officials said.
The US Department of Agriculture's bureau in Islamabad
boosted its forecast for cotton production, despite trimming its estimate of
harvested area to the lowest level in three decades.
The bureau saw Pakistan's 2016-17 cotton production is
forecast at 8.25m 480 lb bales, up 250,000 bales from the previous estimate, and
up 18% year on year.
"Despite reduced planted area, rising cotton prices are prompting
farmers to more actively manage insects, resulting in higher expected yields
compared to a year ago when low cotton prices prompted farmers to curb input
costs," the bureau said.
Prices remained low at the time of planting this season,
between May and July, prompted farmers to cut sown acres to their lowest levels
The bureau saw harvested area this year at just 2.40m
hectares, down from an official USDA estimate of 2.50m hectares, and well below
the 2.80 harvested last year.
But cotton prices have been booming, with the bureau reported
seed cotton prices now standing at 37 cents a pound, up some 48% year on year.
So where last year farmers cut costs by reducing pesticide
application, tanking yields, there is now a strong incentive to
"Consequently, while much will depend on how willing farmers
are to spend on labour to conduct multiple pickings in the fall, yields are
expected to improve," the bureau said.
Based on the updated figures, the
bureau forecasts cotton yields at 3.4 bales per hectare, compared to 2.5 bales
per hectare in 2015-16, a 36% increase.
But despite the stronger production, with consumption
remaining essentially flat at 10.33m bales, the bureau actually upgraded its
forecast for imports by some 200,000 bales.
The reason is a downgrade to estimates of last season's
imports, prompting a trim to 2016-17 opening stocks numbers, which were seen at
a 15-year low.