Downward trend: ‘Cotton production fell due to negligence’

MULTAN: Pakistan Cotton Ginners’ Association (PCGA) Chairman Shehzad Ali Khan on Wednesday held agricultural scientists, research institutes and the seed mafia responsible for low levels of cotton production.

Khan was speaking to newsmen. The PCGA chairman said the proliferation of spurious seeds had taken a toll on the crop. On the other had, he said, climate change had impacted production levels by five to nine per cent.

He said research institutes had failed to create well-germinated, virus-and-heat resistant seed varieties over two decades. Khan said the association had been planning to organise a national conference on cotton to secure the fortunes of the lucrative crop. The PCGA chairman said the All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), presidents of chambers of commerce and industry nationwide, seed companies, Farmers’ Associates Pakistan (FAP), the Cotton Growers’ Association, the Anjuman-i-Kashtkaran and the Pakistan Kissan Board were among the organisations that had been invited to participate in the conference.

He said the fact that cotton production had fallen by 40 per cent was alarming. Khan said the nation had lost over Rs20 billion due to the negligence of the Agriculture Department and research institutes. He said this amounted to criminal negligence and those responsible for it should be held accountable for their actions. The PCGA chairman said production levels had fallen short by four million bales during the prevailing season. He said the apathetic attitude of the government had brought institutions to the brink of destruction. Khan said over 10 million direct and indirect jobs contingent on the textile industry were at stake in the province. He said the industry would not be in a position to compete in the national and international markets if the downward trend in production was not arrested. Khan said the nation had already squandered the advantages that came with having the GSP-Plus status due to the present circumstances.

The PCGA chairman said the APTMA Punjab chairman had been exhorting those in charge of formulating the nation’s economic policies to pass on the benefit of falling oil prices to the industry without further ado. He expressed hope that the government would soon realise the gravity of the situation and immediately announce a bailout for the industry.