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History / Standardization

 Cotton  Standardization in Pakistan:




When the cotton production in the areas which forms cotton belt of Pakistan increased in a sizable quantity, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and some other trade bodies decided to set up an Association for meeting the changing needs of the cotton trade and promoting cotton production. In 1933, all the interested parties agreed to set up an independent Association called the Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) for handling and regulating the cotton trade activity in country. The Association maintained standard boxes for different varieties of cotton and for different grades of each commercial variety. It determined and announced value differences for all the qualities of cotton for encouraging growers to grow good quality cotton so that they may get a better price in the market. The standard boxes maintained by the Association enabled Pakistan to establish its image within the country and abroad and maintain the quality of cotton. Arbitration system was conducted by KCA on the basis of standard boxes maintained by it. Replicas of these standard boxes were supplied to foreign Associations and buyers in other country and these were adopted by the Liverpool Cotton Association.


The Cotton Board was set up by the Government of Pakistan to control the trading and marketing of cotton. Later the Cotton Act 1957 was passed which gave additional powers to the Federal Government’s Cotton Board for controlling the cotton market and promoting and streamlining export. The Cotton Board consisted of representatives of Federal and Provincial Governments, KCA, PCGA, PCCC, APTMA and the Growers representing all those concerned and connected with, cotton production and marketing.


The export trade of cotton was remained in the private sector till October, 1973. It was then nationalized and the Cotton Export Corporation (CEC) of Pakistan was set up as a private limited company to handle the export of raw cotton exclusively in the public sector, CEC took several measures to improve the quality of cotton and its ginning, and to introduce a quality control system so that the marketing operations were protected against losses due to poor grades and lack of proper evaluation of the quality of cotton. CEC established its own independent export types and prepared standard boxes for these types which were supplied to foreign Associations and buyers and these were also adopted by the Liverpool Cotton Association replacing the standard boxes prepared by KCA.


In 1983-84 Cotton Season an intensive survey was undertaken of the entire cotton belt of Pakistan by FAO Experts to establish an internationally recognized cotton standardization system. Various meeting were held with representatives of the concerned cotton agencies, numerous cotton growing farms were visited to observe cotton picking and handling techniques, hundreds of ginning factories were visited to watch the quality of the lint cotton being ginned and to observe the standard of ginning preparation of such lint besides visually checking its colour and trash content.


On the basis of the findings of the Survey, it was decided to:-

  1. divide the cotton growing belt into three zones (Lower Sindh, Upper Sindh and Punjab) according to their respective climatic and field conditions;
  2. conduct an experiment on establishing levels for seed cotton grades and standards for lint cotton.

Hence, more than 1,000 samples of seed cotton were collected during the Survey from ginning factories all over cotton belt of Punjab and Sindh Provinces, representing all the cotton growing areas. Those samples were visually checked and sent to Cotton Research Institute, for colour, trash test.


The above sampling procedures were repeatedly and regularly carried out each year from 1984 to 1989 cotton seasons by the Expert Classers who drew the seed cotton samples throughout the cotton season while implementing the standardization system in ginning factories scattered all over the cotton belt in Punjab and Sindh Provinces. After visual classification, the main grade factors (Rd % and NLC %) were determined for each grade as the technical specification and used for determining the average differentials between the grades for six years.



Many studies and experiments were carried out concerning the fiber properties for   each grade during each cotton season . The results of which concluded what there was no significant difference in Rd % of the different cotton growing areas. Hence, it was decided to prepare only one box for each grade representing all the cotton growing areas. In 1990, the Government of Pakistan approved these standard boxes for lint cotton and grade boxes for seed cotton to be the base for being applied in the trade for Pakistan cotton.

The typical parameters seed cotton and lint for seed cotton grades and lint Standards are as follows;

Seed Cotton Grade Description:










i)  Fully mature and healthy seed cotton (phutti) and free from yellow spots.

ii) Has maximum brightness and matching the specimen box for Grade Super prepared by PCSI.

Free from all kinds of trashes except  few dry leaves  which can be removed easily. Its resulting lint cotton should have an average 77.58% (Rd) and 2.39 % NLC.

ONE  (1)

i)  Mature and healthy seed cotton (phutti), very few number of immature (phutti) exist  but  free from yellow pots.

ii) Brighter in color and matching the specimen box for Grade One prepared by PCSI

Only leaf particles (pin & large) and shells are present in inconsiderable amount. Its resulting lint should have an average 75.40% (Rd) and 3.78 % NLC.

TWO  (2)

i)  Seed cotton (phutti) is mostly mature and healthy but contains  few immature (phutti)  and yellow spots.

ii) Comparatively less brighter in color than grade one and matching the specimen  box for  Grade Two prepared by PCSI.

leaf  particles (pin & large) and shells are present but  free from all other trashes. Its resulting lint should have an average 73.16% (Rd) and 4.72 % NLC.


(Base Grade)

i)  Mature and immature seed cotton (phutti) and contains noticeable number of  yellow spots along with diseased seed cotton(phutti).

ii) Brighter in color, matching the specimen box for  Grade Three  prepared by PCSI.

Besides leaf particles and shells inconsiderable amount of sticks(stems) and bark also found. Its resulting lint should have an average 70.22% (Rd) and 5.73 % NLC.

FOUR   (4)

i)  Large number of immature, diseased seed cotton (phutti), along with large number of yellow spots are existing.

ii) Dull in color, matching the specimen box for Grade Four prepared by PCSI.


Leaf particles, shells, sticks(stem), bark, hulls are  present in a considerable amount. Its resulting lint should have an average 67.00% (Rd) and 7.17 % NLC.


FIVE     (5)

i)  Large number of immature, diseased seed cotton (phutti) than Grade Four along  with numerous yellow spots.

ii) Darker in color than grade Four and matching the specimen box for Grade Five prepared by PCSI.

Leaf particles, shells, sticks (stems), bark and hulls are present in abundance. Its resulting lint should have an average 63.89% (Rd) and 8.65 % NLC.


  1. The factors of color and trash are the basis of seed cotton grades.
  2. Set of seed cotton grade boxes will be sent to every ginning factory for on the spot decision.
  3. If the quality of seed cotton is darker in color then it is found in the box of grade five or the trash amount is more then the existing in the same box then this quality will be considered as below grade.
  4. Rd % means Reflectance degree for the color % and NLC % means Non-lint content       (trash) found in the cotton.




Lint Cotton Standards Description:







Rd %


NLC% Rd %



Fully mature and healthy lint cotton, free from yellow spots with maximum brightness. Free from all kinds of trashes except few Pin leaves.













Mature and healthy lint cotton, very few number of immature fibres, free from yellow spots and brighter in color. Only leaf particles (Pin & Large) are present in inconsiderable amount.














Mostly mature and healthy lint cotton but contains a  few immature fibres and yellow spots. Comparatively less bright in color than Grade One. Leaf particles (Pin & Large) are present but it is free from all other trashes.




4 .72













(Base Grade)

Mature and immature lint cotton contains noticeable number of yellow spots along with diseased lint cotton. Bright in color. Considerable amount of leaf particles and foreign matters, small pieces of sticks, bark also found.


















Large number of immature diseased lint cotton along with large number of yellow spots. Dull in color. Leaf particles, cuts of shells, sticks (stems), bark, hulls are present in considerable amount.














More number of immature, diseased lint cotton than Grade four, along with numerous yellow spots. Darker in color. Cuts of leaf particles, shells, sticks (stems), bark and hulls are present in abundance.  









  • NLC = Non Lint Content      Rd = Degree of Reflectance

In 1992, the Liverpool Cotton Association also adopted these standards as a base for arbitration for solving disputes between the sellers and buyers of Pakistan cotton.





In the beginning of each cotton season seed cotton samples (sack weighting 100-120 kgs from each grade) which match with the seed cotton grade boxes of the previous cotton season is selected by a team of expert classers.


The PCSI Supervisor of each cotton growing area releases the collected sacks(boras) and sends the approved sacks to the PCSI Regional Offices in Multan or Sukkur.


A committee comprising of Classers of each regional office under the supervision of the senior Classer select the most suitable seed cotton sacks where they are used for preparation of seed cotton grade boxes by the PCSI Classers at the end of the season. These prepared seed cotton grade boxes are revised by the experts and sealed after final approval. These seed cotton grade boxes are usually distributed to the ginning factories participating in the PCSI Schemes at the beginning of each season, while two sets are also sent to Karachi as reference.




In the beginning of each cotton season, instructions are given according to a work plan to the Pakistan Cotton Standards Institute Classers are directed to draw one layer (50 kgs) from lot matching with different grades of standards boxes and keep them separately in the ginning factories.


The senior supervisors of institute re-classes these layers, he select and sends the most suitable layers each to the regional offices i.e. Multan and Sukkur. Where they are revised by the committee comprising of the regional manager and other skilled classers.


Samples from the selected layers are then got tested for Rd%, +b, NLC and other fiber properties. The samples which match the most with the standard boxes of the previous season are selected in view HVI results and visual inspection by the expert classers. By the introduction of Pakistan Cotton Color Chart it has become very easy to select lint layers.


Each standard box contains six biscuits representing the minimum and maximum ranges of the grade.


Thousands of biscuits are prepared from those layers; the biscuits are adjusted by a senior team of expert Classers in a specially maintained cotton classing/ standard room.  All biscuits are then tested again and the data is fed to the computer grade wise.  With the help of computer right biscuits are placed in the standard boxes.


Lint Standards of each grade is divided into six card board cells with size which are placed in two rows representing a typical range of each grade in term of Rd% and +b . The box is covered with a lid. Photo of the standards box is labels inside the box cover.  A certificate indicating grade year of manufacturing and authorized signature of the finalization authority to the inner side of the box cover. A label of corresponding grade is attached to an external side of each box.


In the beginning of each cotton season, one set of the standard box is sent to each the ginning factory participating in the Pakistan Cotton Standards Institute scheme, while some boxes are also sent to Karachi for being supplied to the cotton associations or individuals as per requirement.  Five set of the standard boxes are also retained separately for reference and matching at the time of preparation of new standard boxes for the next cotton season.



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