Sarsabz Fertilizer marks the significance of cotton through the nostalgic journey of ‘Khaki Desan’

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) The nostalgic memories of our mothers opening rustic family trunks and taking out hand-knitted khaees and dariyan made from indigenous cotton and proudly setting them for the frequent guests have faded away. However, to try and revive this lost cultural heritage and tradition, Sarsabz Fertilizer released the second episode of its Sarsabz Kahani web series titled “Khaki Desan” which focused on the true story of Jugnu Mohsin, a well-recognized entrepreneur and public figure, who quickly realized the dearth of good quality local cotton and its dying breed called Khaki Desan which nobody was striving to preserve. This latest film is part of a strategic initiative called ‘Sarsabz Kahani’, which highlights true inspirational stories of farmers passionately fond of their motherland and its cultural heritage and was released on the momentous occasion of Eid ul-Azha as a short film on July 10, 2022, across its social media platforms.

Seeking technical assistance from Sarsabz Fertilizer, which is a brand of Fatima Fertilizer, the protagonist went on to successfully harvest the finest crop of Khaki Desan cotton to create an exceptional quality of khaddar, which is a hand-spun and hand-woven cotton cloth being used in the sub-continent since many centuries. Sarsabz Fertilizer extended their unravelling contribution and support to Jugnu Mohsin to implement this community support program as a sustainable initiative which can re-engage and empower a community of thousands of rural women in the centuries-old craft of cotton spinning and weaving and earn a decent livelihood for their families. Sarsabz also supported Jugnu Mohsin in setting up a workshop under the name “Haveli Crafts” to market the final products.

The story of this unique collaboration is multifaceted in many ways. Most importantly, it refers to the recent decline of cotton production in Pakistan which is detrimental to our economic stability. As per the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, the cotton crop holds a 0.8 percent share in GDP and contributes 5.2% to the agriculture value addition. Cotton also holds a 51 percent share in the country’s total foreign exchange earnings. Despite this economic significance, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has reported that in the past 10 years cotton production has almost halved from 13.6 million bales in 2011/12 to about 7 million in 2020/21. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has also reported that the crop area of cotton has significantly reduced to 2.2 million hectares, the lowest since FY82. Although in the current context, the economic survey of Pakistan for FY 2021-22 reported that the cotton crop increased from 7.1 million bales reported last year to 8.3 million bales during 2021-22. However, this gradual recovery in crop yield is faced with many challenges including a significantly reduced crop area, inconsistent gas supply to fertilizer plants resulting in limited availability of locally produced urea, and increasing cost of farm inputs for an already burdened farmer due to high market inflation.

Pakistan’s economy is largely dependent on the cotton industry and its related textile sector, and the crop has been given principal status in the country due to its integral role in economic development. Increasing the crop yield of cotton is the need of the hour given its economic significance. Also, marketing of local cotton varieties and products can also help boost our foreign exchange earnings and increase export profitability margins.