Khosa confident of achieving cotton production target

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LAHORE – A number of challenges need to be immediately addressed for fully exploiting the potential of “white gold” and we possess the ability to increase cotton production and achieve the 15 million bales target, said Punjab Chief Minister Senior Advisor Sardar Zulfiqar Ahmed Khosa. He was addressing inaugural session of the fifth meeting of Asian Cotton Research and Development Network on Wednesday.
He inaugurated the conference on behalf of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. A large number of local and foreign scientists including delegates from different sectors of agriculture and agro-based agencies were also present. Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa said that the greatest challenge for Punjab’s cotton is infestation of Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV), which has plagued our cotton productivity badly.
He said that recommending steps which lead to the solution of this problem is the greatest challenge for this workshop. He maintained that Punjab produced over 11 million bales in 2004; however, production remained around 10 million bales later. “Now, we have to import two million bales worth $1.5 billion from India,” he said, adding that Punjab government had taken steps to boost cotton production in the province.
He stated that the present government is adopting a two-fold strategy i.e. to strengthen research institutes and to import available international technologies for local adaptation. He maintained that the provincial government has invested over Rs 150 million on various research projects to find local solutions for key issues in the cotton sector.
He further said that BT cotton varieties were approved by Punjab Seed Council for the first time since the process was initiated eight years earlier. He said that the current government wanted to keep international flow of technologies open with reasonable assurance of Intellectual Property Rights.