A girl hand-picks cotton from a field in the outskirts of Faisalabad.—Reuters Photo
A girl hand-picks cotton from a field in the outskirts of Faisalabad.—Reuters Photo

LAHORE: The government has reconstituted the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) for improving cotton research and development to substantially increase productivity from an average 700kg per acre to 1,200kg over the next several years.

The reconstituted committee will be chaired by the federal textile minister with his deputy nominated by the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma), which has already agreed to raise cotton cess from Rs20 per bale to Rs50 to collect more funds required for undertaking research projects and paying market-based salaries to the scientists involved in research.

The proposal for reconstituting the committee with greater representation of the private sector stakeholders was advanced by Aptma more than one and a half years ago. The 25-member reconstituted PCCC will be dominated by 17 members representing the country’s textile industry, ginners, farmers and Karachi Cotton Association.

The committee will decide its terms of reference in its first meeting expected to be held next week.

“The increase in the collection of the cotton cess funds will create room for allocating greater funds to undertake research and development and enhancing the salaries of the under-paid cotton scientists,” says Aptma leader Gohar Ejaz.

Aptma had demanded greater representation for private sector on the committee for judicial use of the cotton cess funds for developing research to increase per acre yield of the fibre in view of its growing demand by the domestic spinning industry.

The domestic cotton yield remains stagnant for over two decades now and the industry is dependent upon imports for meeting its requirements. China tops the cotton growing countries with per acre yield of 1,200kg.

Gohar says in contrast to Pakistan the cotton yield in China and India has increased substantially during the past 20 years because of their institutionalised research and development on cotton seed.

“Pakistan has so far lacked resources to initiate creditable cotton seed research projects because of paucity of funds as a chunk of the amount recovered from cotton cess was utilised on payment of salaries to the scientists left very little for field experiments,” he said.

He says highly learned scientists are de-motivated as they cannot conduct research because of shortage of resources. Moreover, he says, those who managed to make some fruitful inroads in cotton seed development are not rewarded.

He says the industry had asked the government to increase cotton cess on the condition that the private sector that contributes to the fund would have a major say in its utilisation on research and development.

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