Government strengthening cotton research, development programme to increase production

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 2 (APP):Planning and coordination of cotton research anddevelopment programme among federal and provincial cotton research institutions was being strengthened to increase cotton production, improve yields per hectare, evolve disease resistant varieties, promote Bt cotton cultivation and improve overall quality of cotton, a senior official of Textile ministry said.
In his country statement on the occasion of 75th plenary meeting of International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) here at a local hotel, Dr Khalid Abdullah, Cotton Commissioner of ministry of Textile Industry told the participants of the conference that above 1200 cotton ginning factories were in operation in Pakistan.
“The ginning industry operates in 80-120 saws type”, he remarked.
However, he said that the majority of ginning factories have saw gins of 90 saw blades type adding that the production capacity of ginning industry in Pakistan ranges from 12 million bales to 35 million bales.
The Cotton Commissioner said that the government was taking some serious steps to upgrade this sector of the industry.
He further informed that the establishment of cotton standard through Pakistan Cotton Standard Institute (PCSI), and setting up of a Ginning Institute in public sector were positive steps.
Pakistan, he said exports about one million bales annually and competes neighboring countries in this regard.
“Although the cotton trade is dependent upon market forces, Ministry of Textile Industry supports exporters in regulatory framework in order to enhance cotton exports, he remarked.
Dr Abdullah further said that the future cotton policy envisages a number of strategies which included germplasm improvements, development of hybrid cotton much improved and better farm and crop management bringing additional area under cultivation especially in the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkwa besides minimizing post harvest losses.
He informed the gathering that cultivation of organic cotton was also being encouraged, particularly in the virgin fertile and pest free lands of Balochistan.
“Seed Act has been amended and rules are being formulated. Plant Breeders Act has also been passed by the Parliament of Pakistan”, he remarked.
Dr Abdullah further said national cotton research and development system was being streamlined with the involvement of all key stakeholders to bring it at par with international standards.
“The government is also encouraging multinational and national technology providers for introducing latest and effective insect protection technology”, he remarked.
Highlighting the performance of cotton sector in the country, he said that the commodity, a major cash crop of Pakistan and is considered the backbone of the economy, adding it adds up to 1.5 per cent of GDP and 6.7 per cent of total value addition in agriculture sector.
Pakistan, he said is the fourth largest producer, third largest consumer and second largest exporter of cotton yarn in the world.
Export of cotton and textile products is 60 per cent 60 per cent of overall exports of the country adding that the current tariff policy was based on free trade and there were no restriction on import of export of cotton.
He said that cotton is grown by 1.3 million farmers on over 3.1 million hectares of land which is 15 per cent of the cultivated area of Pakistan with an average production hovering around 12.7 million bales to 14 million bales per acre.
“This is consumed largely by 521 textile mills in the country through a significant quantity of up to one million is also exported”, he remarked.
However, he said to meet the demand for extra long staple cotton, about 2 million bales are imported annually.
Dr Abdullah said that during 2014-15, cotton production was recorded the highest ever in last decade at 13.96 million bales or 2.373 million tons against the target of 15 million bales weighing 170 kilograms.
However, he said cotton production declined by 28 per cent at 9.92 million bales or 1.686 million tons, mainly because of climate change, competition with other crops, lower market prices and outbreak of pinkbollworm.
Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC), the apex cotton research body of the country, was doing its due by releasing new Bt varieties within the said standards of fiber quality and national coordinated Varietal Trials, he remarked.
PCCC, he said is creating to the cotton requirements of the industry,exporters and other stakeholders by disseminating of data, documentation of cotton trade, pricing and policies at national and international level and provision of technical support for planning cotton policies at federal level.
It may be mentioned that Pakistan is hosting, the six-day (October 03 to November 4, 2016, 57th International Cotton Advisory Committee at a local hotel.