Punjab Seed Council has approved 18 cotton varieties for cultivation in Punjab. 42nd meeting of Punjab Seed Council was held at Agriculture House, Lahore chaired by Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh, Minister for Agriculture, Punjab. The meeting was attended by Sumaira Samad, Additional Secretary (Planning) Agriculture Department Punjab, Managing Director, Punjab Seed Corporation, Director General Agri (Research), Director General Agriculture (Extension) representatives of NIAB, NIBGE, Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department, Pakistan Cotton Growers Association, APTMA, PCGA and cotton growers. The proposals of 26 varieties of BT cotton/non-BT varieties evolved by research institutions of the Government and private sector were presented in the meeting. While discussing and considering for approval, the breeders of BT varieties presented the case of their varieties for approval by highlighting trial results and performance of the candidate varieties and their characteristic. After discussing at length and keeping in view the data presented for candidate varieties 4 new BT varieties FH-114, CIM-598, SITARA-009 and A-one whereas, 4 new non-BT varieties BH-167, MIAD-852, CIM-573 and SLH-317 were approved for general cultivation. Whereas, four BT varieties including TARZAN-1, NS-141, IR-NIBGE-3, MNH-886 and 3 non-BT varieties NIBGE -115, FH-941 and FH-942 were approved for one year for field performance/monitoring of the varieties. The council also granted approval of three BT varieties IR-1524, Ali Akbar-802 and NEELAM-121 after completion of one year’s approval earlier. Eight varieties were deferred by Punjab Seed Council. The minister for agriculture, Punjab congratulated the breeders of new varieties and appreciated their contribution in agriculture sector. He said lion’s share of available resources is being diverted to develop agriculture on modern lines in the province as this particular sector is top priority of the government to achieve self sufficiency and self reliance on sustainable basis. Talking to media men after the meeting, the minister said 80 new varieties of different crops have been approved during regime of present government since 2008, whereas, only 49 were approved by previous government during their five years tenure. He further said that wheat production of 19.04 million tonnes during 2010-11 was achieved as compared to 15.60 million tonnes in 2007-08 which marked an increase of 18 per cent. Similarly bumper rice production of 3.38 million tonnes, record productions of 42.8 million tonnes of sugarcane, 2.96 million tonnes of wheat and 3.34 million tonnes of potato were achieved during 2010-11. He added now Punjab government has entered into certification regime to produce fully traceable agricultural and livestock products to reach high end markets of the developed world and to enhance exports for which Rs2.024 billion has been allocated to improve supply chain of selected agricultural and livestock products for improving quality and introducing traceability as per international standards and requirements. He urged the farmers to grow latest high yielding approved varieties to make country self-sufficient in agricultural commodities, paving way for increasing agricultural exports for earning precious foreign exchange.