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MULTAN: Cotton crop was doing well after having endured heavy monsoon rains, floods and heatwave and production target was likely in sight, officials said in a briefing to Punjab minister for agriculture Syed Hussain Jahanian Gardezi.

Gardezi who chaired the maiden meeting after assuming the office as provincial agriculture minister to review crop situation at Mango Research Institute (MRI) in Multan, said that future of cotton largely hinged on how fast farmers adopt the Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a model that prescribed delayed and lower application of pesticides to keep friendly pests alive and rely mostly on bio-pesticides to counter enemy pests. He said, IPM model not only increases production but also reduces cost.

Minister said that agriculture economy growth mostly dependent on performance of cotton crop and also contribute significantly to the national economy. He reiterated Punjab government’s commitment to continue to strive for cotton crop rehabilitation and survival as a top priority.

Gardezi appreciated the team work of the agriculture department that ensured cotton survival last year and improved cotton sown area this year in south Punjab.

He said that cotton crop needed good care in August and September. Situation on the ground shows there was no need to plunge into hopelessness, he said and promised efforts to reach nearest possible to the production target this year.

He announced to hold cotton review meetings every fortnightly. He said that biological laboratories were providing free cotton friendly pests to farmers.

South Punjab secretary agriculture Saqib Ali Ateel said that monitors have been deputed at all districts for prompt reporting on cotton.

He said that April sown cotton was yielding 275 per vent more cotton than previous year adding that production target looks achievable if this trend continued to persist.

Officials informed the minister that 80,000 acre area was affected by heat wave and 71000 acre area due to heavy rains and floods.

They said that cotton crop remained under stress due to water shortage and heat wave in March and April. However, despite this, the early sown crop was yielding 10-30 Mounds of production per acre. Additional secretary agriculture (Admin) south Punjab Syed Naveed Alam, DG pest warning Rana Faqeer Hussain, director cotton Dr Sagheer Ahmad, director agriculture information Naveed Asmat Kahlon and other officials attended the meeting.

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