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LAHORE: Cotton crop has so far been sown slightly over 1.25 million acres of land in Punjab against the target of 4 million acres assigned to the province by the federation, said sources in the Punjab Agriculture Department.

Sources told Business Recorder here on Monday that pace of cotton sowing is a bit slow due to multiple reasons and extension staff is working hard to push the growers to achieve the sowing target within time. They said that maize has become first priority of the growers where sweet water is available, while in sugarcane growing areas growers prefer ratoon crop which is more profitable.

However, growers of areas with low water availability going for cotton. The sources said that pest scouting, higher picking charges and other factors are also keeping the farmers away from cotton.

“We have launched a comprehensive plan of subsidies which include subsidizing the quality certified seed and DAP fertilizer so as to help the growers achieving the sowing target with lower input cost. The department is providing certified seed of 75 percent germination rate with a total subsidy of Rs 3.2 billion in this regard,” said the Director General Agriculture (Extension) Dr Anjum Ali Buttar while talking to this scribe on phone.

He said that 10 companies have been pre-qualified in this regard to provide the seed subsidy through scratch cards. He said that 80 percent of the seed provided under this programme is having over 70 percent germination rate while the rest is also certified approved varieties.

Similarly, he said that a sum of Rs 3 billion has been earmarked for taking measures against whitefly. While for fertilizer subsidy soon the department a sum of Rs 5 billion will be available and 26 companies have been pre-qualified for this purpose. He said that the department had already transferred Rs 3 billion to the banks in this regard. He said that vouchers encashment has also been started which were packed in seed bags.

Dr Anjum Ali said that the department is working on to promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques among the growers to save the cotton from different diseases and ensure more per acre yield. Besides this demonstration plots are also being setup in different areas of cotton growing region so as to showcase the latest techniques to the growers. He said that bio-control labs have also been activated to rear the biological control measures to save the crop from pests.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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