MULTAN-Federal Minister for food security and research Sikandar Hayat Bosan declared on Monday that no duty-free cotton import will be allowed until the entire stock of locally-produced cotton is sold.

Addressing the members of Multan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI) chaired by Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi here, he said that he is aware of the problems being faced by small cotton growers. “Safeguarding the interests of Pakistani cotton growers and overall farmers is one of the key priorities of the government,” he claimed.

Bosan was of the opinion that the Cotton research Institutes and cotton crop committees should be given under the supervision of his ministry to achieve the target of 20 million bales of cotton. He said that efforts are being made to cut the cost of agricultural production and bring the prices of grain and other commodities at the level of International Market. He said that plant breeder rights bill could not be approved during the last 13 years. “The PPP govt did not even touch its file during its tenure, which, in fact was a national loss,” he pointed out. The Minister said that Pakistan easily achieved the mango export target of 0.1 million tonnes and now more than 0.3 million tonnes of Kinno would be exported this year. Boson said that Pakistan would soon be self-sufficient in edible oil as the government is going to cultivate soyabean in Bahawalpur, Pothoar, KPK and other areas.

He said that agricultural research is improving day by day, and expressed hope to develop fully functional research institutions in due course of time. Bosan made it clear that he was pro-farmers and he was proud of being pro-agriculture but he is not an enemy of APTMA. “I have no objection on the import of cotton if the local stock is disposed of,” he declared. The minister said that farmers have suffered huge losses last year, this year they brought 21 percent less area under cotton crop and production had dwindled down to 40 percent. He was optimistic that cotton area would be increased next year because farmers had earned profit during current season due to better production and fair weather.

The minister admitted that sun flower production decreased to 0.2 million tonnes from one million tonnes. He stressed the need for encouraging the sowing of oil seed. He said that sun flower consumes less water than wheat. “15 maunds per acre sunflower production may fetch Rs40,000 crop sold for Rs2,700 per 40 kg. Land preparation and cost of production is between Rs15,000 to Rs17,000. It gives 15 maunds per acre yield. It requires 400 kg of seeds/acre grown in two seasons spring and summer. In south-Sindh is grown in Jan 15 to Feb.2 and July 15 to Aug 30, while north-Sindh planting in Feb and July 15 to Aug 30. Former MCCI President Farid Mughis Sheikh said that there was no justification for free-trade between India and Pakistan when India was plotting to dismember Pakistan, we are in state of war with India. He suggested imposition of a ban on Indian products like spare parts, cotton-yarn, cotton, made-ups etc. MCCI President Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi in his welcome address said that being a son of soil he (Bosan) should get approved special development package for Multan. Safari park, zoological garden, Museum and gymkhana club should also be established in Multan for recreation of Multanites.

He demanded for lifting ban on the import of cotton immediately because there was a gap of 4 million bales of cotton in demand and supply. Chairman of Multan Dry port Muhammad Ahmed Chughtai demanded for restoration of certification facility for pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, chemicals etc by plant protection department at the dryport. Ch Zulfikar Ali, Bakhtawar Tanvir Sheikh, Rehman Nasim, Khawaja Muhammad Azam, Khawaja Tahir, Khawaja Muhammad Younas Chairman APBUMA, Suhail Mehmood Haral Senior Vice Chairman of PCGA and Syed Muhammad Aasim Shah Vice President of FPCCI also spoke.