Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah while speaking at the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research on Wednesday, said that, cotton cultivation in Punjab the largest cotton producing province is going down by 28 percent in the current season and termed it very alarming. Due to which the cotton production in Pakistan may witness further decline next year.
He further added that the country witnessed 30 percent decline in cotton production in year 2015-16 due to abnormal weather, seed quality, pests, diseases and low prices.
Cotton is grown mostly in the two provinces of Punjab and Sindh, with the former accounting for 79% and the latter 20% of the nation's cotton growing land. Abdullah said that in spite of sufficient stock of cotton with Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), 500,000 cotton bales have been imported from India via Wagha border.
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) urged the government to further increase the import of cotton lint from India up to 530,000 bales. If the government allowed increase in import of cotton, it would badly affect local growers and the situation would further deteriorate in the country therefore the import of cotton via Wagha border should be stopped.
The Agriculture Minister of Punjab province has requested the federal government to fix intervention price for cotton. The Committee which met with Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah in the chair observed that import of cotton lint from India via Wagha border is detrimental to the interest of cotton growers in the country and should be immediately stopped.
Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan fully endorsed the view that the import via Wagha should be immediately stopped. The Committee requested the Ministry of Commerce to consider this recommendation on priority basis.
Last year cotton production in the country declined by 30 percent and if appropriate measures were not taken this year, cotton production in the country will further decline.
The committee observed that there are sufficient stocks with the TCP, there is no justification for importing cotton from India.
The senate body also recommended including tractors in the compulsory list of vehicles which conferred the authority to Ministry of Science and Technology to check the standards of vehicles for agriculture. The committee observed that a laboratory affiliated with Pakistan National Accreditation Council should be set up to check compatibility of vehicles with international standards.
The National Assembly will be passing the Plant Breeders Rights (amendment) Bill, 2015 shortly which will help resolve many issues related to quality of seed.
The cost of production will decrease when government takes effective measures for reduction of input cost. The committee expressed displeasure over the poor implementation of Seed Act, 2015. Muzaffar Hussain shah said that Parliament passed the Bill last year but many outlets especially of cotton seed are not being checked for quality.
The Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department is responsible for checking seed quality but is has only 28 offices and facing shortage of staff. The scarcity of staff offices of the department who have the responsibility to check the seed is leading to problems in seed certification. The committee urged the Ministry to come up with proposals on how to ensure good quality seeds for farmers.
About the proposal of budget (2016-17), the Minister said that majority of the proposals developed by the Ministry for the upcoming budget is aimed to reduce cost of production.
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