Cotton to be cultivated on 8. 01 million acres this year

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ISLAMABAD : Pakistan will cultivate cotton on 8. 01 million acres this year, which is about 8 percent higher than the area under the crop last year. This was decided in a meeting of Cotton Committee constituted by the President of Pakistan to increase local production of cotton. The committee, which met here on Monday with former federal minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock Nazar Mohammad Gondal in the chair, recommended increase in area under cotton cultivation this year. The meeting was attended by federal minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal) Mir Israrullah Zehri and Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din apart from federal and provincial secretaries. The mandate of the committee is to devise ways that could increase per acre yield of cotton in the country. New areas in KPK, Balochistan and Potohar region of Punjab will be brought under cotton cultivation, Gondal said. The government would establish Pakistan Cotton Board as an autonomous body under Public-Private Partnership to develop a CLCV resistant variety in the final stage of formulation Gondal informed the meeting. He added that Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) had been asked to import more germ-plasma from abroad and it must be handed over to researchers for further development. Last year government set cotton production target at 14 million bales, but the devastating floods swept away cotton crop on 0. 6 hectares. Despite this Pakistan produced over 11. 5 million bales of cotton. Pakistan s local textile industry annually requires nearly 14. 5 million bales and if this year cotton production could be increased by 8 percent due to favourable weather condition the country would produce nearly 15 million bales. The estimated loss to the cotton crop due to last year s flash floods in cotton growing areas of Punjab and Sindh stands at over Rs 120 billion. According to officials, Pakistan is the world s fourth biggest cotton producer, but often has to import it to meet the demand of local textile sector, which accounts for about 60 per cent of total exports. The representative of the textile industry requested the government to take keen interest in introducing virus resistance cotton seeds so that the farmers and textile industry of the country could gain maximum advantage, which would enable the country to generate foreign exchange reserves. The meeting identified that ensuring quality inputs especially seed, awareness about weed control, timely sowing and an extensive media campaign were identified to be the vehicles to positive change in production. The meeting further underlined the need to ensure quality inputs, timely treatment of CLCV, bringing more areas under cotton production in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Balochistan and Potohar region. The meeting also discussed medium and long term strategies to enhance cotton production and decided a crash Programme 2011-12 to be launched in co-ordination with the provincial governments and private sector to focus on ways that can help in boosting cotton production in Pakistan. Secretary Agriculture Punjab and Sindh informed the meeting that both the provinces have trained the trainers to educate the farming community and the production plan and manuals are ready to be distributed. The president of Pakistan after meeting members of All Pakistan Textiles Mills Association (APTMA) had formed the committee on cotton to modernise local cottonseed on international standards so that the cotton production is enhanced to meet the domestic requirements. Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV), production techniques, improving research and offering Special Pay Packages (SPS) were identified to be potential areas to be addressed. Aptma assured the meeting that the textile industry would bear all the cost of cotton research, saying that increasing the cotton input in Pakistan is need of the hour and the industry would provide all necessary financial support to the researchers. The meeting was also informed that cotton production in Dera Ismail Khan would increase from 10,000 bales to 30,000 bales due to the construction of Gomal Zam. Balochistan province has the potential to produce huge quantity of cotton but it needs attention of the concerned authorities. Pakistan Agriculture Research Centre (PARC) has been tasked to import germ plasma of different varieties so that local cotton production could be enhanced, Gondal. The meeting was also attended by Secretary Minfa, secretary, Textiles, all provincial agriculture secretaries, Provincial Director Generals (DG) of agriculture, Chairman PARC, D. G National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC), Chairman Aptma Gauhar Ijaz and other members of Aptma were also present. The members would later hold a meeting with the president of Pakistan on the progress made so far.

Courtesy : Business Recorder

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