ISLAMABAD-Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam underlined that a state of the art research center would be established to promote organic farming in the country that would provide chemical free food to the people besides a number of other benefits including clean environment and better land fertility.

Participating in the budget debate, he said agro-economic development depends on structural reforms and agriculture sector development can only be achieved by revamping farm technology, reorienting research, transfer of technology and promoting organic farming. He said, “Organic farming had been made on 172 million acre land across the world and this type of farming would also be helpful for the environment”.

“We have to take steps for the encouraging and attracting people to start organic farming in the country” he added. Fakhar Imam also expressed the commitment to develop the agriculture sector on scientific lines in order to enhance yield of major crops including wheat, cotton and rice. He said that China has agreed to transfer of technology in the agriculture sector under the second phase of the China-Economic-Pakistan-Corridor.

Fakhar Imam said Pakistan would not require loans from IMF and Asian Development Bank if it manages to enhance the cotton production from current 9 million bales to 18 million bales. He was of the view that value addition can increase the export of the country.

He said that it was unfortunate the industry had not been given priority by all the previous governments. “With the focus of value addition, the country’s export can be enhanced” he added.

He said research was also required to enhance per acre yield of wheat crop. He said that there was chance that the country may not achieve set target of wheat. He said that the government has now allowed the private sector to import wheat to stabilize its price in the market. He said that the government has announced billions of rupees to fight locust outbreak that threatens food security in the country. The minister said that aircraft had also been arranged to spray in the locusts affected areas. He said that Pakistan army has established center to deal with locust in the country.

Meanwhile, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Saturday said that technological advancement was imperative in order to increase per-acre cotton yield in the country.

Talking to a delegation of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), he said that his ministry was working on transfer of Chinese seed technology for yield-enhancing, besides securing funds to reduce cost of production to make cotton production a profitable business. The PCGA delegation apprised the minister about the issues and challenges faced by local cotton sector. Sohail Javed, Chairman PCGA, informed that the declining cotton production was affecting ginning sector, the most. As seed cotton for ginning factories cannot be imported, he said adding that cottonseed cake, a byproduct of cotton was used as livestock feed to enhance milk production, is subject to multiple taxes. They added that other issues like piled up tax refunds, slower buying of cotton by APTAM, and liquidity issues hampering the ginning sector adversely during the COVID 19 outbreak.

He urged that the Ministry of NFSR must act to resolve their issues and save this sector for firther loss.

Syed Fakhar Imam further said that Ministry would take up the taxation issue with Finance Division and leave no stone unturned to get relief for the ginning sector.

Fakhar Imam asked Chairman Javed and Senior Vice Chairman Mr. Asim Shaikh of PCGA to send a set of proposals for modernizing the ginning sector and upgrade technology to improve the quality of lint produced in Pakistan.

The PCGA delegation informed that over 1,300 ginning factories installed across the cotton belt and these ginning factories have ability to gin 14 million bales but due to short production for the few years, only 800 factories were in operation last year.

It’s a seasonal business and that’s why most of the ginning factories also have oil extraction units to utilize the cottonseed and convert into oil and cottonseed cake.

Oil goes to cooking oil industries or soap industry and cottonseed cake, which is rich in fibers, protein an