Economy, Domestic Economy

Gov’t Plans to Revive Cotton Farming

Gov’t Plans to Revive Cotton FarmingGov’t Plans to Revive Cotton Farming

The government is planning to revive cotton farming in the northern Golestan Province, according to the head of Cotton and Oilseeds Department of Golestan’s Agricultural Jihad Organization.

Ali Mousakhani added that since cotton farming uses considerably less water compared to many other crops, the Ministry of Agricultural Jihad is planning to encourage local farmers to replace water-intensive crops with cotton, Mehr News Agency reported.

Golestan Province was in the past known as “the land of white gold” because of its vast cotton farms. Cotton industry was the driving force behind Golestan’s economy, creating jobs and generating revenues either directly or indirectly through cotton farming and related industries.

The province was not only a cotton production hub, but it was also a major exporter of the product to 21 countries.

Over the years, local cotton production was severely hit by a range of problems, including high costs of labor, seeds and fertilizer that lowered profit margins, water shortage, lack of modern equipment and new cultivation methods, insufficient government support and imports of cheaper cotton.

With the cotton farms shrinking each year, many experts are voicing concern that the sector may not be able to survive.

The ministry, according to Mousakhani, is planning to promote the cultivation of alternative strains of cotton with a shorter growth period of 125 days compared to the regular strain’s 180 to 200 days.

He noted that the government is also planning to provide farmers with facilities for procuring mechanical cotton pickers so as to shift from traditional farming to automated methods.

To counter cheap imports and maintain farmers’ competitiveness, Mousakhani wants the government to purchase local products at higher prices and impose higher tariffs on imports.

To promote an industrial product like cotton, he concludes, the government should support not only cotton farmers, but also related industries such as textile manufacturing and carpet weaving.