Cotton can help in economic breakthrough for Pakistan, says food minister

11:56 PM | 10 Aug, 2020
Cotton can help in economic breakthrough for Pakistan, says food minister

ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research (NFSR), Syed Fakhar Imam said on Monday that the imbalance among crop cultivation will be redress through policy initiatives, adding that cotton can help in economic breakthrough for the country.

He stated this while attending webinar on "Problems faced by the cotton industry". He mentioned that from 1985 to 1992, country saw major breakthrough in cotton production.

At that time our cotton production increased to12.8 mn bales. It was a paradigm shift, in which Punjab produced 11.4 mn balesabd Sindh produced 1.4 mn. In 2017 our cotton production was 11.93 mn bales, in 2018 production was 9.861 mn and in 2019 it was 9.451 mn bales.

Federal minister mentioned that No assurance any of making any profit in cotton production, grower invest half- heartedly which lead to lower yields. If a rang of margin is assured, grower not only invest but also work hard to get better yields like in sugarcane, corn and wheat.

The industry plead higher prices will make them un-competitive in the international market, at the same time not willing to pay import parity price to local grower. He mentioned that there must be practical research in cotton sector for increasing yield. The cotton yield in our country is 700 kg/hectare.

Syed Fakhar Imam mentioned that cotton cultivator should go for mechanized agriculture. He said that drone technology and solar tube wells are the tools that can be used by cultivators. He said that Cotton ginning in Pakistan is the weakest link after cotton “Seed” needs immediate attention.

Pakistan gin its 14 million bales of cotton in 1300 ginning factories. The ginning technology has to be upgraded to modern and efficient technology, which consumes less power, less damage to cotton fiber and more efficient. With improved machines and technology, cotton quality will improve and require lesser ginning factories, probably, 300-400 ginning factories would be enough to gin 14 million bales.

Syed Fakhar Imam said that A conservative estimate of cottonseed business is about Rs. 30-40 billion, whereas, over 700 seed companies unable to provide the required quantity of cotton seed and the gap is filled either by sub-standard Benola or by illegal seed entrepreneurs operate in villages.

Non of the seed companies could develop confidence among cotton grower. It is worth mentioning here that only local seed companies operate in cotton seed business, and non of the multinational seed company are in this business in Pakistan. Syed Fakhar Imam added that curl leaf virus, pink bull wirm and white fly are major pests of cotton.

We need to work on pesticides as well. The webinar was attended by representatives of PCGA, FPCCI and Vice Chancellor of Agriculture University of Multan.