ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to spend 20 billion rupees on the production of high quality cotton seeds and the development of climate resilient production technologies in a bid to revive the crop which has suffered from climate change and the use of seeds lower quality in recent years.
Talk with Profit, an official source informed that the decision was taken during a meeting on reviving cotton which took place here on Wednesday. The meeting, chaired by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema, brought together Trade Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, Industry and Production Minister Syed Murtaza Mahmud, government agencies and concerned stakeholders. The meeting consulted with stakeholders and reviewed proposals for improving yield and cultivation area.
Committee members were informed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on August 20 approved Rs 10 billion for the Cotton Research and Development Endowment Fund. These funds will be released in three installments over a three-year period. They decided to use the funds to improve seed quality in addition to upgrading and developing climate-resilient production technologies.
In addition, members decided to encourage companies providing seed technology to market their cottonseed in Pakistan. In this regard, a committee has been formed that will negotiate with seed companies and facilitate their entry into the local market.
The committee was informed that the latest seed technologies will help improve productivity and benefit the sector as farmers will be encouraged to grow more cotton through such incentives.
Federal Minister of Industries and Production, Syed Murtaza Mahmud, asked the committee members to review the criteria for registering seed companies. He added that the federal government will consult with provincial governments and come up with a mechanism to penalize companies that supply substandard seed.
The meeting was further informed that substandard cottonseed is affecting farmers, ginners and the textile industry. Therefore, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research is designing an awareness campaign for farmers to educate them on ways to improve productivity and improve farming skills.
Emphasizing the need to improve R&D in the country, Mahmud urged the textile industry to pay cotton tax arrears in order to improve cotton research activities.
It can be mentioned here that crop production has gone from over 12 million bales about a decade ago to around 7 million bales last year. Cotton farmers have suffered huge losses over the past three years due to the sensitivity of the crop to the environment, production quality and other factors.