MULTAN - Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has urged upon the government to grant a bailout package to cotton growers and convince them to bring maximum area under cotton crop to make Pakistan self-sufficient in cotton and save over Rs30 to 40 billion being spent on the import of three million cotton bales.

While addressing a press conference, PCGA Chairman Dr Jeso Mal, former chairman Shehzad Ali Khan and Group Chairman Haji Muhammad Akram said that it was a very alarming situation that cotton area had fallen by 25 percent to a 31 percent, as farmers switch to more profitable crops and they had trimmed the cotton sowing area consequently due to which textile millers would have to import cotton to meet their needs. Even with an expected uptick in yields, the 2016-17 crops was forecast at just nine million bales, down from an earlier estimate of 11 million bales.

They said that cotton production is integral to the economic development of the country, so we have launched a “sow cotton save economy” (Kapas Ugao Maeeshat Bachao) campaign to make the country self-sufficient in cotton and cotton exporting country. They claimed that the country had a potential to produce 20 million bales of cotton. They suggested the government to fix minimum support price for cotton crop as is done in the case of wheat and sugarcane before the sowing season.

This can encourage the growers to sow cotton on a larger area if they find the support price satisfactory. They said that the cotton is now grown on less than 200,000 hectares against 300,000 hectares six years ago.

Dr Jeso said, “We are expecting 11 to 12 million bales of cotton during current season as per acre yield in south Punjab was far better than past. He said that the government was doing blunder mistake by neglecting the cotton which is called white gold and patronising the sugar industry which cannot be exported without financial rebate. He said that the government should implement the 16-points formula “Khushal Kashtkar, Khushal Pakistan” to come true the dream of economic prosperity and stability. He suggested the government to ensure the supply of certified, well-germinated and virus resistant seed on reasonable price and exemplary punishment be awarded to the manufacturers, dealers and suppliers of spurious ,adulterated seed, fertilisers and pesticides. The government should hire the competent agricultural scientists to enhance the per acre yield of cotton, he added.