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LAHORE: Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman said on Friday that after obtaining 14.4 million bales of cotton production in the last decade, the gradual decline in cotton production by almost three times is a huge loss for the national economy, which can be improved by high quality seed supply.

While addressing the meeting of cotton seed committee, here at Governor House on Friday, the governor said that announcement by the prime minister to fix the support price of cotton at Rs 8500 per maund before sowing is commendable, which will encourage cotton farmers to cultivate cotton on maximum area.

He added that cotton crop plays a central role in the stability of the country's economy by providing raw material to the textile industry and earning the highest foreign exchange.

He said that decline in cotton production is a major concern, which needs to be improved by joint efforts of all the stakeholders. He said that all out efforts will be made to solve the problems of seed industry to ensure quality production of cotton in the country.

The governor emphasised on integrating research on seeds of modern technology with the collaboration of the public and private sectors.

He said that concerted efforts on the part of the government, agriculture research institutions, Department of Agriculture, agricultural universities and private institutions aimed at solving seed problems will yield positive results.

He said a letter has been sent to the chief minister Punjab to convene the meeting of the Seed Council within a week to take important decisions for facilitating the cotton farmers.

He expressed concern over non-payment of cotton cess by APTMA and said that it is affecting cotton research institutes.

Earlier, Dr Khalid Hameed, Convener of the Cotton Seed Committee, while presenting recommendations on behalf of the committee said that complicated and long-term rules and regulations are required to be made easier for early approval of modern technology seeds.

He also emphasised adoption of GMO seeds at the national level. He said that recommendations also included incentives to farmers for reasonable cash reward to cotton breeders for new varieties that produce excellent yields for three years.

The other recommendations included: early interim approval to new varieties on the authenticity of the label, facilitation of the acquisition of research materials from research institutes of developed countries by domestic companies, research laboratories of modern technology seeds at the local level, providing interest-free loans for setting up processing plants and modern storage, convening joint meetings of provincial seed councils and VEC for early approval of new seed varieties, controlling sub-standard, fake and unapproved varieties of seeds by strictly implementing the Seed Act, 2016.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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