MULTAN: Federal government has initiated a process of legislation to establish ‘’Pakistan Cotton Authority (PCA)’’ with an objective to inject a technological booster into national cotton economy and make it thrive on its full potential.
Dr. Muhammad Ali Talpur, the economic advisor of ministry of national food security and research (MNFSR) told APP that the proposed authority will provide much needed stewardship to the PCCC in holding talks with international foreign companies.
He said that it will also help out for negotiating and finalizing agreements for technology transfer, ensuring the protocols required for new technology implemented with the capacity required, addressing licensing and certification issues of new seed technologies besides ensuring recovery of cotton cess to address financial woes of PCCC.
PCCC had been facing financial crunch for the last many years affecting its operations on research and facing difficulties in meeting its operational expenses. And whenever PCCC approached federal government, they proposed restructuring and the initiative of Pakistan Cotton Authority (PCA) was an outcome of this new forward looking approach, said Dr Talpur who also holds the additional charge of PCCC as its vice president.
There was no authority with PCCC to recover cotton cess and the PCA that has been principally approved by Prime Minister is expected to solve the financial problems, he said adding that the government was also contemplating an endowment fund to support proposed PCA.
The MNFSR economic advisor said that the PCA legislation process was in an initial stage adding that a Zero draft was sent to the cabinet committee on legislative affairs (CCLA) that was returned to PCCC for some corrections. A lot of discussion has taken place on the draft legislation and the same has been sent to the Law Division, Dr. Muhammad Ali Talpur said.
Since the legislation was a long and time consuming process, PCCC was thinking over a proposal to hire experts having experience in holding talks for agreements with world technology leaders so that process of bringing improvement in research does not get affected. And this section of experts as part of PCCC would provide stewardship to move ahead with the negotiations for new technology induction in Pakistan.
Dr. Talpur said that some local research bodies like Centre of Excellence on Molecular Biology (CEMB) have developed Bt cotton varieties in the country. He added that government has reduced the mandatory two-year period of national varietal trials for approval of new seed varieties to just one year provided the variety under trial showed good results in one year period. It was meant to fast track the process of new seed varieties’ approval.
Dr. Talpur said, Pakistan had a cotton area spanning over around eight 8 million acres which has now reduced to five (5) million acres due to different factors including cost of production. Punjab cotton area was once over six (6) million acres but last year it was reported to be 3.2 million acres. Government was now focussing on increasing cotton area in Punjab to over four (4) million acres, he added.
He, however, added, even this area under cotton cultivation can bring a whopping 20 million bales national production provided best agronomic practices are incorported with suitable technological interventions while ensuring wastage to the minimum.
He said, government was doing whatever it can to reduce cost of production by way of subsidies on fertilizers, PB ropes and other implements and exploring cost effective technological solutions to improve financial standing of farming community.