By Razi Syed
KARACHI: There is dire need of protecting the interest of lint growers in Pakistan as country witnessed four consecutive years of declining production, member Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) said Thursday.
A senior member KCA, Ghulam Rabbani said in Pakistan, the challenge was to raise virtually static cotton production for the last many years.
He said since 2004-05, the projected targets for cotton yields were not being met due to continuing crop losses and poor government policies.
He said bollworm and Curl Leaf Cotton Virus (CLCV) played havoc with crops in many areas of the country.
“The use of counterfeit pesticides and supply of poor quality seed to farmers in the name of BT cotton variety has already destroyed our cotton production” Rabbani added.
He said All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and growers were continuously requesting the authorities to bring latest agriculture technologies in cotton so that Pakistan could regain its lost position in the world as a leading cotton producer.
Cotton is an important cash crop for Pakistan and it accounts for 8.2 percent of the value added in the agriculture sector and about 2 percent to GDP, adds over $2.8 billion to the national economy.
He said Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) should discuss contents of the signed recently with a two member Chinese follow up mission headed by Qiquan Zhang, Director General, Agri Division, Xinjiang Production and Corporation for implementing technology in Punjab and Sindh for growing BT Cotton.
The scientist should start trial production to assess the BT genes behavior in Pakistan’s soil conditions and climate.
Monsanto is the world industry leader in GM cotton seeds and this technology has given sound results in areas as diverse as India, Brazil, China and Australia.
According to agreement, initially 800 acre land would be used by Chinese at farmers field, out of which 400 acre would be used by applying drip irrigation method and 400 by applying sprinkler irrigation method.
The PARC would monitor all research activities being carried out through joint venture for production of colored and white cotton at large scale, he added.
Germ Plasm of Hybrid BT colour cotton and inter specific hybrids need to be acquired from China and production technology to be tested at five sites selected by Chinese on coloured and white cotton at large scale at farmer’s field.
Anotheerr international company, Monsanto has planed to bring in Pakistan the latest cottonseed technology (BG-II and RRF), currently only available in USA and Australia.
Tolerance to CLCV is critical for any germplasm to succeed in Pakistan.
The approval process of BT cotton has taken long, growers have started importing poor quality and smuggled BT seed.
This led to use of smuggled seed in Punjab by almost 60 percent. The pirated varieties are not developed for Pakistan’s agronomic conditions and do not perform well, especially against mealy bugs and CLCV.