Cotton-Wheat are very important crops grown in Pakistan. These two crops have a very important role in the economy of Pakistan. The performance of these two crops is a key for the growth of agricultural sector.
Pakistan is the fourth-biggest cotton production nation on the planet after the USA, China, and India. The cotton has share of 1.0 percent in GDP and contributes 5.1 percent value added in agriculture.
In 2015-16 cotton was grown on 2,961 thousand hectares which shows a reduction of 1.5 percent from the previous year of cultivation that was 2,961 thousand hectares in Pakistan. Cotton production during 2015-16 was 13.960 million bundles which was 27.8 percent more than the production of 10.074 million bundles in previous year.
Value addition of wheat in agriculture is 9.6 percent and has 1.9 percent share in GDP of Pakistan. In Pakistan cultivation area of wheat during 2016-17 was 9,052 thousand hectare which is a reduction of 1.9 percent from the previous year’s area that was 9,224 thousand hectares.
During 2016-17 the production of wheat was 25.750 million tonnes which shows an increase of 0.5 percent from the previous year’s production of 25.633 million tonnes. This increase in wheat production was due to fertilizer subsidy from Government of Pakistan.
Overview of cotton-wheat system
In Pakistan, cotton-wheat cropping system is mostly practicing in the areas of Southern Punjab, some areas of Central Punjab and Sindh. This system is the main source of income for the farmers of these areas. From the cultivation of cotton-wheat cropping system, a farmer gets great economical benefits. Thus, socially improving their livelihood.
The remains (stubbles) of the cotton crop are a source of fuel for the community in that area. Wheat is the main staple crop having about 60 percent consumption in daily routine diet. To get the maximum yield of wheat, about 70-75 percent of the household food budget is using in its cultivation. So the cotton-wheat cropping system is like the backbone of the farmers in the areas where it is cropping.
Constraints and solutions
There are some constraints in cotton-wheat system which create hurdle to get the maximum yield potential of these two crops.
Zero tillage technique
Cotton is harvesting very late which causing delay planting of wheat. To overcome this problem; farmers should use zero tillage techniques for the cultivation of wheat. The zero tillage technique not only saves time but also saves cost of production of 4500-5000 per hectare spending for seedbed preparation. To minimize the effects of late planting, short duration wheat varieties should cultivate.
The other problem in cotton-wheat system is use of mix variety and homemade seed. About 48 percent of farmers are using substandard seeds. To overcome this problem government need to arrange seminars and awareness campaigns for farmers. These kind of activities will benefit farmer for getting high yields using modern seed varieties.
Another issue is that the major part of the farmer community does not use sufficient amount of fertilizers. Especially in case of phosphorus and potash fertilizers, 95 percent of the farmers do not apply micronutrient to the soil. That’s why they cannot get yields of the full potential of cotton-wheat crops.
Weed infestation is also a big problem. According to recent surveys certain types of weeds reduce 14-42 percent of wheat yield. For controlling of weeds farmers are using herbicides, that not only increasing the cost of production but also affecting the environment negatively.
Irregular patterns also a big problem for cotton-wheat system. The major amount rainfall occurs in the months of July and August when the cotton is at its early stage and it is in lush green condition. The large amount of rainfall increases the humidity in the atmosphere and also provides a favourable environment for the attack of sucking insect and pink bollworm which not only reduce the yield of the cotton crop but also affects the quality of produce.
Due to excessive rains there is anaerobic soil condition which decreases the aeration of the soil and plant roots are suffocated which ultimately results in the death of plants.
In muddy conditions farmers cannot perform field operations or it is too difficult. Thus, the prices of produce become very low, which does not allow them to use balance amount of inputs to their crops. As a result, drastic reduction in yield of the crops occur.
All issues and problems in the cotton-wheat cropping systems can minimize by creating awareness among farmers for modern crop agro-management techniques. There should be proper and fast multiplication of seed and its distribution. Government should make policies to provide subsidies to the farmers for the inputs to the crops and to provide high support prices to the outputs. And make sure that the farmers get this price for their produce of the crops with ease.
This article is jointly written by Nasir Ali 1 and Imdad Ullah 2. The authors are from 1 Agrobiology Lab, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, and 2 Crop Physiology Lab, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.