The cotton production in Pakistan may witness further decline next year as cultivation of the crop in the largest cotton producing province Punjab has declined by 28 percent in the current season. While speaking at the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research on Wednesday, Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah said that in Punjab, cotton cultivation is going down by 28 percent and termed it very alarming. Senators Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari, Gul Bashra, John Williams, Azam Swati, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, Mukhtiar Dhamra and other senior officials also attended the meeting. The country witnessed 30 percent decline in cotton production in year 2015-16 due to abnormal weather, seed quality, pests, diseases and low prices, he said. Cotton is grown mostly in the two provinces of Punjab and Sindh, with the former accounting for 79% and the latter 20% of the nation’s cotton growing land, he added. Abdullah said that in spite of sufficient stock of cotton with Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), 500,000 cotton bales have been imported from India via Wagha border. All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) urged the government to further increase the import of cotton lint from India up to 530,000 bales, he said adding if the government allowed increase in import of cotton, it would badly affect local growers and the situation would further deteriorate in the country therefore the import of cotton via Wagha border should be stopped. He said that the Agriculture Minister of Punjab province has requested the federal government to fix intervention price for cotton. The Committee which met with Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah in the chair observed that import of cotton lint from India via Wagha border is detrimental to the interest of cotton growers in the country and should be immediately stopped. Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan fully endorsed the view that the import via Wagha should be immediately stopped. The Committee requested the Ministry of Commerce to consider this recommendation on priority basis. Last year cotton production in the country declined by 30 percent and if appropriate measures were not taken this year, cotton production in the country will further decline. The committee observed that there are sufficient stocks with the TCP, there is no justification for importing cotton from India. The senate body also recommended including tractors in the compulsory list of vehicles which conferred the authority to Ministry of Science and Technology to check the standards of vehicles for agriculture. The committee observed that a laboratory affiliated with Pakistan National Accreditation Council should be set up to check compatibility of vehicles with international standards. Bosan told the meeting that Plant Breeders Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2015 will be passed shortly by the National Assembly, which will help resolve many issues related to quality of seed. About the proposal of budget (2016-17), the Minister said that majority of the proposals developed by the Ministry for the upcoming budget is aimed to reduce cost of production. “Due to high cost of production, we are unable to export surplus wheat, he said adding that cost of production will decrease when government takes effective measures for reduction of input cost. The committee expressed displeasure over the poor implementation of Seed Act, 2015. Muzaffar Hussain shah said that Parliament passed the Bill last year but many outlets especially of cotton seed are not being checked for quality. A senior official of Ministry of National Food Security and Research told the committee that Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department, the department responsible for checking seed quality has only 28 offices and is facing shortage of staff. He further said that Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department constituted a departmental committee to deliberate and review the existing seed rules and regulations in order to adjust with new requirements in the light of Seed Amendment Act, 2015. The committee also observed that the scarcity of staff offices of the department who have the responsibility to check the seed is leading to problems in seed certification. The committee asked the Ministry to come up with proposals on how to ensure good quality seeds for farmers. Officials of Zarai Taraqqiati Bank Limited and Kissan Support Services Limited (KSSL) informed the committee that they are in the process of completing the exercise of recruitment on merit basis which will be completed by month-end.