Higher cotton productivity imperative

LAHORE: Participants of an opinion-formation seminar have evolved consensus that ameliorating cotton productivity is essential for the economic development of Pakistan.
The seminar, held at the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab office, was organised by the Pakistan Cotton Forum (PCF). Punjab Secretary Agriculture Dr Arif Nadeed and Agriculture Research and Advocacy Centre (ACAC) representative Muhammad Ahsan Rana made a detailed presentation and answered queries of stakeholders from textile industry, cotton farmers, ginners and cotton traders.
APTMA Chairman Gohar Ejaz was also present on the occasion. A presentation was in the backdrop of the Punjab government’s negotiations with Monsanto, a global leader in biotechnology and cotton seeds for introduction of new technologies and improved seed in Punjab.
The seminar covered areas including introduction of insect resistance and herbicide tolerance technologies, research collaboration between Monsanto and Pakistan Research Institutes, capacity building of local seed companies and technology fee payment by the Punjab government for any unauthorised spread off Monsanto’s proprietary technologies.
The presenter, Muhammad Ahsan Rana, lamented that pests, diseases, water scarcity, inadequate seed provision system are though not unique to Pakistan but still no systematic efforts are being made to avoid them in the Pakistan cotton economy.
Lack of professional seed industry is the primary cause behind this loss. He emphasised the need to develop R& D, support development of a professional seed variety, latest technology for improved production to remove these constraints.
In addition, he called for developing strategic partnerships with the private sector and international institutes. He praised Monsanto and said that the company possessed practical solution to Pakistani problems in cotton economy. Pakistan would gain legal access to Monsanto technology through these negotiations.
Monsanto partnership offers the opportunity to get connected with technology pipeline, he added. He believed that transformation of the local seed industry is another beneficial area and said that it offers an opportunity for research collaboration with Pakistani institutes for solutions to Pakistan-specific problems.
Available technology products in the market including Monsanto’s single-gene Bt, CEMB single-gene and double-gene Bt, Chinese fusion gene Bt and double-gene Bt, Monsanto’s double-gene Bt (BG II), Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready (RR) Flex and BG II x BR Flex Stack.
Punjab Agriculture Secretary Dr Arif Nadeem said that the negotiations are also aimed at availability of drought resistance variety from Monsanto by 2018. He further stated that the Punjab government was planning to bring a greater area under cultivation through technology advancement in cities like Hafizabad, Narowal and Sargodha.
“We are focusing on six to eight million acre area growth under this approach and looking for huge advantages as a result of technology advancement in cotton economy”, he said.
He expressed hope that textile industry, ginners, seed companies and the government would take maximum advantage from Monsanto intervention to Pakistan cotton economy. However, losers would be breeders and seed companies currently not observing legal practices, he added.

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