19,857 tons cotton seed certified so far to ensure quality
ISLAMABAD (APP): Minister for National Food Security and Research has certified 19,857 metric tons cotton seed so far against the total seed requirement of 40,000 metric tons. Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department (FSC&RD) is monitoring sale of fake and below standard cotton seed to ensure its availability and quality. An official at the Ministry on Friday highlighted the steps taken for development and promotion of new high yielding Bt and non-Bt cotton varieties and said there is no protection available in Copyright Law to Genetically Modified Seeds. He said the toxin level ranges from 0.5 to 1.9 ug/gm of fresh weight in leaves.
 The approved Bt cotton varieties are comparatively low in germination strength due to early sowing i.e. February and March.­
The official said the value approved by TAC is appropriate for the region and added National Biosafety Committee (NBC) approves varieties of seed from environmental point of view.
He elaborated the procedures adopted for this purpose and said the applications on prescribed format are prepared and submitted to Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) of the organization concerned for evaluation and scrutinizing before recommending to NBC for approval.
While the applications are processed at National Biosafety Centre and placed before the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for evaluation on scientific and technical parameters and recommendations are furnished to NBC for decision.
The applicants are provided an opportunity to defend their cases in the TAC meeting, he said and added the NBC on the basis of TAC recommendations and as per current policies of government decides to approve or reject the application. The proceedings are transparent in all respects.

Lafarge to divest its Pakistan’s 75 per cent shares
LAHORE (Staff Reporter): The Lafarge SA has announced to divest its entire holding of 75.86% share in Lafarge Pakistan Cement Limited (LPCL). The local as well as international players have shown interest in acquiring the company.  While the acquisition remains in due diligence phase at the moment, seven companies/groups are currently believed to be vying for LPCL namely Lucky Cement, DG khan Cement, House of Habib, Vision Holdings, Pioneer Cement, Bestway Cement and Kohat Cement. LPCL is a North based manufacturer with a nameplate capacity of 2.4 million tons while production stood at 1.64 million tons in CY13 (capacity utilization: 68.4%).
According to experts, value creation for any acquirer could potentially come from deliverageing the balance sheet where current total debt stands at R4.1 billion with operating cash flows at PKR1.9bn, ii) substituting the higher national grid based electricity with cheaper self generation through setting up a captive power plant, iii) potentially increasing utilization levels and iv) reducing the admin expenses particularly the royalty payable to Lafarge SA.

Tevta holds technical fair
LAHORE (Staff Reporter): A two-day Hunar Mela, organized by the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA), started here on Friday, attracting a large number of school going boys and girls students and parents who got first hand information about the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) available in Punjab. The two-day Hunar Mela is supported by the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform Support Programme, which is co-funded by the European Union, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Secretary Industries/Chairperson TEVTA Ali Sarfarz Hussain while inaugurating the two-day mela, said that TVET, being a stream of education and skill learning, has better prospective of employability. He said challenge of unemployment and utilizing the youth buldge in Pakistan in general and Punjab in particular can only be resolved through equipping the youth with employable skills. He urged the young students to adopt TVET is a career path, which can transorm their future.

Paddy to be sown over 4.4m acres
DASKA (APP): During the Kharif season rice would be cultivated over 4.4 million acres of land in paddy growing areas of Punjab, said agriculture experts. Agriculture department has directed rice growers that paddy nurseries should be cultivated after May 20 in their respective areas. Sources in Agriculture department told APP on Friday that paddy would be sown over 19 lakh acres of land in Gujranwala division, while 3.91 lakh acres land would be brought under paddy crop in Sialkot district. Sources said adequate efforts were being made for creating awareness among the growers about the use of recommended seed for getting better yield of the crop in the province.
The department has also directed the paddy growers to use only recommended and authenticated varieties of rice seed such as supper Basmati, Basmati-385, Basmati-370, Basmati-515, Basmati-370, Basmati Pak and Shaheen Basmati etc for attaining maximum yield.
Apart from this the Provincial Agriculture department had initiated a training programme for paddy growers on the preparation of nurseries and cultivation of paddy crop aimed at attaining the target affixed for Punjab. “The use of recommended and authenticated paddy seeds and pesticides will pave the way for high quality,maximum per acre yield in Punjab”, sources added.
The local agriculture department has already initiated farmers training programme in 1442 villages of Sialkot, Daska, Pasrur and Sambrial tehsils of Sialkot district.
The department has directed paddy growers to refrain from transferring plants from nurseries to their respective fields before June 20 so as to get optimum yield of the crop.

World oil prices rebound
LONDON (AFP): World oil prices rebounded Friday on supply risks owing to the possibility of a full-blown armed conflict in Ukraine, as pro-Moscow rebels press on with disputed independence referendums. The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in June, added 82 cents to $101.08 a barrel.  Brent North Sea crude for June won 73 cents to trade at $108.77 a barrel approaching midday in London. “Oil prices are on the up on concerns about the prospects for supply disruption if the crisis in Ukraine escalates further,” said analyst Ishaq Siddiqi at trading firm ETX Capital. Despite a call from Russian President  to postpone the vote to ease tensions, pro-Kremlin rebels in Ukraine have vowed that independence referendums would go ahead as planned this Sunday.
There are fears the country could erupt in fresh violence on Friday when both it and Russia celebrate the Soviet victory in World War II.
“We expect political turmoil in Ukraine to continue in the run-up to, and probably also in the aftermath of, the presidential elections on May 25,” Dutch bank ABN AMRO said in a note.
Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said there would be a “build-up in risk premium” ahead of the planned May 11 referendums in eastern Ukraine.
Analysts said energy investors were jittery also after Russia on Thursday ordered Ukraine to pay upfront for all its future natural gas deliveries because of billions of dollars in outstanding debts.
The largely-anticipated announcement imperils supplies to a large swathe of the European Union because nearly 15 percent of all Russian gas consumed by the 28-nation bloc transits through Ukraine.