Chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Haji Hafeez Anwar demanded the government on Friday to launch crackdown on mafia involved in production and sale of counterfeit and sub-standard seeds. Talking to the journalists here, he further asked the government to ensure the supply of well-germinated, certified and heat-virus resistant seeds. He said that Pakistan can produce more than 20 million bales of cotton, asking the agricultural scientists to come forward for the achievement of this target. He said that exemplary punishment be awarded to fake and spurious seed providers to combat the adulteration and supply of substandard agricultural inputs. He said that some seed companies have no researchers and no agricultural scientists .Cotton seed was being prepared with the help of acids and other chemicals which was badly affecting our cotton production and its quality. Chairman PCGA said, “We have raised voice against the influential seed mafia from our platform” but no one paid any heed . He stressed the need to allowing the well-reputed multi-national companies to sell their seed and insurance facility must be provided to the growers to save them from the devastation in case of natural calamity.He said that Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif should take notice of destructive agricultural policies which may paralysed the agricultural economy.He said that Over 60 per cent of bacillus thuringiensis (BT) cotton sown in Pakistan last year was counterfeit, “That was why the country missed the production target by almost 2.5 million bales,” he believes. “The seed mafia, in connivance with the officials of the agriculture department, is ruling the roost,” he said. The BT cotton seed is being sold to farmers by seed companies with a production claim of up to 40 maunds per acre against existing average of around 15 maunds. All these claims are falling flat, but no official action is being taken against the culprits, he claimed. Haji Hafeez Anwar said that seed is being sold at exorbitant price in certain parts of the province but with no guarantee of projected yield. “The farmers are not in a position to ascertain the health of the seed. Only the government departments can do the job, but, unfortunately, they have joined hands with seed mafia rather than protecting the farmers.

Wheat procurement begins: The wheat procurement operation has begun in Multan and 16 procurement centres have been set up in Multan district for this purpose. The District Coordination Officer Zahid Saleem Gondal said that all out measures were adopted to ensure transparency in procurement and payment process. He said that the Punjab Government was determined to continue wheat procurement till lifting even last grain from the growers and the initial target for wheat purchase for the province was set at four million ton.

He disclosed that the process was made transparent by doing registration of growers through computerised system and citizen feedback. He said that the government had announced Rs. 1300 per maund support price for wheat while eight gunny bags would be provided against each acre. He said that one Grade-17 revenue officer was deployed at each procurement centre as coordinator to monitor the process. He said that the growers would also be paid Rs7.5 per bag as delivery charges. He directed the heads of all district departments to extend cooperation to one another for making wheat procurement operation successful.