ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research (NFSR) has stressed on the need of immediately stopping the import of cotton lint from India via Wagah border saying it is detrimental to the interest of cotton growers in the country. The Senate Body on NFSR which met in the Parliament House on Wednesday with Senator Muzaffar Hussain in chair pointed out that last year’s cotton production declined by as much as 30% and if appropriate measures are not taken this year, the country will see decline in cotton production.

The committee observed that there are sufficient stocks with the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), there is no justification for import. Federal Minister for National food security and research Sikander Hayat Bosan fully endorsed the view that the import via Wagah should be immediately stopped. The committee requested the ministry of Commerce to consider this recommendation on priority basis. The committee was also told that the agriculture minister of Punjab has requested the federal government to fix intervention price for cotton. The committee fully endorsed this point and recommended that the same may be done as early as possible as the new crop is likely to come by the end of June.

The minister told the meeting that the plant breeders Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2015 will be passed shortly by the National Assembly. The committee noted that after the passage of the bill, it has been pointed out that many outlets especially of cotton seed are not being checked for quality. 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 ministry was asked to come up with proposals on how to ensure good quality seeds for farmers.

The committee also directed that tractors should also be included in the compulsory listof vehicles which conferred the authority to ministry of science and technology to check the standards of vehicles for agriculture. It was also said that for purpose of authentic information, it is necessary to have a laboratory affiliated with Pakistan National Acredition Council to check compatibility of vehicles with international standards. ZTBL and KSSL told the committee that they are in the process of completing the exercise of recruitment on merit which will be completed by the end of this month.

MD KSSL wasa directed to be in a position to brief the committee about the process. MD PASSCO was also directed to take necessary steps to ensure that new centres in Tando Muhammad Khan, Umer Kot, Sanghar, Mir Pur Khaas for wheat procurement are notified by the Government of Sindh. The meeting was attended among others by Senator Sirdar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Senator Muhammad Mohsin Khan Laghari, Senator Gul Bashra, Senator John Williams, Senator Azam Swati, Senator Mushahidullah Khan and Senator Mukhtiar Dhamra.