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Preparing for a challenge
By: Muhammad Adnan

There is a very clear and direct connection between climate change and
our agriculture and textile industry that must be looked into Pakistan is one of the countries which are extremely vulnerable to
climate change. That is partly due to lack of resources to respond to
climate change. It’s becoming a great challenge for Pakistan not only
for environment issues but for social and economic development as well.

Due to the effects of climate change, Pakistan has seen a number of
catastrophic episodes during the past few years, including drought in
2000, heavy rainfall in 2001, glacier melting in 2008, and floods in
2010-12. The intensity of these events, which are increasing overtime,
is leaving millions of people at risk.

The changes in environment in Pakistan is making significant impacts
on major sectors of Pakistan economy, including industry, agriculture,
fisheries, biodiversity, community health, tourism, business, forests,
transport and public services, etc.

The agriculture sector in Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate
change and it has been badly affected during the past 3-4 years. Among
all crops, the cotton crop is the major crop damaged by floods.

Pakistan is the 4th largest grower of cotton after the US, China, and
India and 3rd largest consumer of cotton. According to the Economic
Survey of Pakistan 2013-14, cotton has a share of 1.4 per cent in GDP
and 6.7 per cent in agriculture value addition. It is an important
source of raw material to the textile industry.

The economic activities in Pakistan are influenced significantly by
the textile sector as the sector directly contributes to the domestic
production, financial services, and foreign exchange earnings,
accounting to 8 per cent of GDP.

Cotton is the lifeline of the textile market of Pakistan. Let’s now
see the vulnerabilities of cotton crop and the textile industry of
Pakistan to climate change.

There are various factors which are responsible of fall in cotton
yield during the past few years in Pakistan. The cotton production has
decreased due to the rise in temperature, floods, unpredictable rainfall
pattern, etc.

Textile sector of Pakistan is entirely dependent on the raw materials
of cotton crops and the textile industry of Pakistan was suffered due
to the back to back floods 2010-12.

 Around 2 million bales of cotton were destroyed by floods, leaving
the businessmen to bear the burden of higher price of imported cotton.

The Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010-11 states that the prices of
cotton started increasing sharply from October 2010 (PKR 7,150 per
maund) and touched a 150-year record level in March 2011 (PKR 12,500 per
maund) on the back of both supply and demand factors. The 2010-12
floods made a substantial negative effect on the economy of Pakistan
with lasting long term impact.

Due to a decrease in cotton production the textile industries of the
country had to rely on the import of cotton. Around 2 million bales of
cotton were destroyed by floods, leaving the businessmen to bear the
burden of higher price of imported cotton. This also increased the
overall import bill of Pakistan during 2010-2012.

Climate change is affecting not only the textile sector’s
productivity but also making effects on Pakistan economy in importing
and exporting textile goods in order to maintain a reasonable balance of

There are no proper studies available on impacts of climate change on
textile markets in Pakistan. Particularly, one can’t have data on the
impacts of climate change on lower, middle and upper level farmers of
cotton crops which are affecting from climate change.

Studies are also not available on the adaptive capacity of these
farmers regarding their response to climate change. Adding to this, no
proper research is available that discusses the vulnerabilities of
climate change to cotton, yarn, and textile markets of the country.

The lower and middle level producers/exporters of textile products
are also being affected by climate change. The question that is yet to
be answered is whether these producers/exporters have the capacity to
import raw cotton in order to complete their export orders?

The livelihood of a huge population of the country is associated with
the textile sector and again no proper evidence or research is
available on how many livelihoods (of daily wage workers) are associated
with the textile sector due to climate change.

There is a large chunk of female cotton pickers associated with
cotton picking and also a large number of females are associated with
the manufacturing of textile products, so it should be also seen to what
extent these females are affected.

There is a need to improve the adaptive capacity of institutions
working for the mitigation of climate change. The government seriously
needs to address the highlighted issues above.

Source :

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.