During a ministerial meeting on cotton and wheat in Islamabad –presided over by Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam, Sindh Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahoo expressed worry over the extremely high costs of inputs including prices of DAP, urea and pesticides. He also expressed concern regarding the quality of seeds provided to farmers.
The Punjab agriculture secretary informed the meeting that cotton will be planted on 4 million acres and till now sowing on 13pc area has been completed. He further said that the Punjab government was giving subsidy to farmers on cotton seed and fertilisers under its subsidy programme. The Punjab Seed Council has approved 15 new cotton varieties.
The Punjab agriculture secretary further stated that the subsidy on whitefly pesticides will be disbursed to farmers in southern Punjab through ‘Kisan Card’. The provincial government is also working on trace and track of cotton seed so that quality seed can reach growers, he added.
Addressing the meeting, Minister for Agriculture of Balochistan Eng Zamarak said that the provincial government has decided to expand the cultivation of cotton in 20 districts. The quality of cotton in Balochistan is much higher than other provinces, he stated. Balochistan is the first province to produce organic cotton with non-GMO seeds, he added.
Pakistan economy is primarily agricultural in character and cotton is the most significant industrial raw material that is produced by the country. However, lately Pakistan has slipped to being the fifth largest cotton producer in the world and the third largest cotton consumer. The country is unable to meet its cotton production targets and there is no one willing to take the blame.
Sindh will grow cotton over an area of 600,000 hectares and so far sowing on half of the area has been carried out in lower parts of the province, Sindh Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahoo said on Monday. pic.twitter.com/iTdrCEqagc
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Cotton production is a source of livelihood for 1.7 million farming families and acts as a raw material to the $12 billion export textile industry. Moreover, cotton picking is also the largest source of employment for the village women. It contributes 8.5 percent to Pakistan’s GDP and is therefore extremely crucial for the economy.
It is pertinent to note that despite the gradual decline in cotton production since the past few years, PCCC which was constituted to help with the development, improvement and marketing and manufacturing of cotton has done nothing to help. Through an extensive research and development program, this committee was supposed to help replace the archaic technology that was responsible for the low levels of cotton production. However, it has remained ineffective till now.
Cotton is one raw material that has the potential to offer rural prosperity and fetch enormous foreign exchange. To repair the cotton sector, it is important that serious efforts are put in to incentivize the industry so that it can play its role in rescuing the crop. The failure of this crop can also be prevented if the scientists take into account the early warning signs of climate change and prepare accordingly. There should be minimal government intervention and the growth should purely be industry-led. Better rates for produce should also be guaranteed and new strategies should be introduced to boost seed development.