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KARACHI: Chairman of National Business Group and President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum Mian Zahid Hussain has said that ignored agriculture sector is emerging as a threat to national security, food security and industrial sector.

The steps of the government and the central bank have started improving the economic situation but the agriculture sector can reverse all the gains, he said. Mian Zahid Hussain said that wheat is central to the food security while cotton is a lifeline for the industrial sector and both of the crops are going down.

He said that hundreds of textile mills providing millions of jobs and 60 percent of the foreign exchange dependent on cotton but the cotton production and area under cultivation were shrinking since a decade.

On one hand, the textile industry buys low-quality cotton which is also most expensive while on the other hand growers are facing financial crunch which indicates the serious problems this sector is facing. The cotton is available for 71.29 cents per pound in the international market while its price in Pakistan is 76.85 cents.

The production has come down from 880kg per hectare to 577kg in a decade while the average output of central Asia is 1100 to 1200kg. Brazil is getting 1660kg per hectare and China is producing 1826kg of cotton from one hectare.

He said that the cotton production and quality is better in all the important cotton-growing countries as compared to Pakistan and if the local production continued to decline it will push the country into serious problems.

The cotton decline will leave the textile industry with no other option but to waste billions in foreign exchange to import cotton which will result in serious issues, he warned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020