Plan prepared to boost cotton output

ISLAMABAD - To boost the cotton production and increase its cultivation area by 45 percent by 2025, an action plan has been prepared which recommends to rationalize existing excessive incentives for sugarcane.

The recommendation was part of the action plan presented to a meeting of the federal cabinet for increasing the cotton production in the country.

According the minutes of the meeting, available with The Nation, the cabinet was informed that due to different factors cotton production had faced virtual stagnation since 1991-92, which had been fluctuating between 10 and 12 million bales, with a disastrous fall to 9.9 million bales in 2015-16.

However the cotton consumption was 15 million bales, making Pakistan a net importer of cotton, the action plan said.

The reason for stagnation includes use of inappropriate 1st generation, rather that 4th Generation BT technology; absence of quality seeds; lack of solution to CLCV problem; low quality of ginning; and Pakistan's being the most contaminated cotton.

These reason had led to declining cotton profitability and 20 percent decrease in the cotton area between 2004 and 2016.

The action plan recommended that the cotton production target may be fixed at 25 million bales by 2025 by increasing area from 2.4 million hectares (a 45 % increase) and yield up to 1200 kg/hectare. Research funding may be provided with a restructured PCCC to revive the textile industry financial contributions. Cotton research may be revitalized from PSDP at Rs 2.5 billion for 5 years through competitive FRANTS managed by PARC under IPC.

It was also recommended that partnership may be initiated for variety development and marketing, the Seed Act and Plant Breeder Rights Act may be implemented, Sub-standard cotton seed and BT cotton varieties may be regulated.It was also recommended that cotton sector may be regulated by rationalizing over 700 seed companies and disallowing cotton import during cotton picking season.It was recommended in the action plan that Cotton Cultivation may be expended in KP and Balochistan.

Spinning and ginning may be improved through better technology, shifting of current weight based pricing to quality based system, and bale labeling by ginners showing quality features.

The existing excessive incentives for sugarcane may be rationalized, by replacing its current pricing mechanism with a new linking sugarcane price to the wholesale price of sugar in order to ensure a level playing field for all commodities.

The cabinet was also requested that the administrative control of Pakistan Cotton Central Cotton Committee should be transferred to National Food Security and Research Division to strengthen public private partnership in cotton research through increased funding from the public sector and more pro-cotton policies in the overall policy framework.

Furthermore, National Food Security and Research Division should also submit an annual report to the cabinet on the actual results achieved by PCCC and implementation of this action plan.

The cabinet approved to transfer Pakistan Cotton Central Cotton Committee and related matters from the ministry of textile industry to ministry of National Food Security and Research Division.

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