—File Photo

KARACHI: The sowing of BT cotton in Thatta, Badin and other coastal areas of lower Sindh has started as these areas are best suited for the crop, sources in the Agriculture Department said on Friday.

The BT cotton variety is sown on 85 per cent areas of the province for being resistant to virus and higher yield.

The Crop Protection Department has convened a meeting of officials and researchers on April 2, to discuss measures for protecting Kharif crop — rice and cotton — from a possible virus attack.

Bashir Kerio, director Crop Protection told Dawn from Hyderabad that the crops in the outgoing Rabi reason, especially wheat, remained free of virus. He said that the province had a bumper wheat crop this year due to sufficient availability of water and a healthy climate except for some losses incurred due to the recent heavy rains in some areas.

Meanwhile, the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has expressed concern over delay in issuing water supply schedule for the Kharif season by the Irrigation Department because of which sowing of cotton and rice were being delayed in the province.

The Chamber in its weekly review meeting in Hyderabad on Friday urged the caretaker government to take urgent action in this regard so that sowing of Kharif crops could be carried out on time. The meeting was chaired by Dr Nadeem Qamar.

Briefing on the deliberations of the meeting, Nabi Bakhsh Satio said that the growers would not begin sowing till the time dates of water supply from barrages, to different areas, were not announced.

Despite receiving a positive report from IRSA on the availability of water for Kharif crops, the Irrigation Department was yet to inform the growers about the water supply schedule, he said.

The SCA has asked the caretaker government to take notice of the role bureaucracy was playing to inconvenience the growers, particularly in the absence of an elected government.

Satio reminded that last year a large number of rice nurseries were destroyed because of delay in releasing water which in turn inflicted huge losses to the growers.

The SCA also expressed its concern over delay in opening of wheat procurement centres in the province and said that till March 29, not a single centre was functional due to the shortage of jute bags (bardana).

The meeting noted that in the past procurement centres became active in the first week of March with the start of early wheat harvest.

The chamber feared that if the official buying of wheat was not started urgently, billions of rupees in subsidy would be pocketed by the traders while the growers will be deprived of genuine government assistance.

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April 1, 2013 12:24 am
Policy makers -- please do not sow BT varieties. You will lose your independence and food security to international food corporations! The BT varieties have a restriction enzyme which prevents the seed from reproducing. This means that the seed for next year's crop will be worthless and you can only then purchase seed from the vendor. Sure, you get a higher yield but you lose your independence. And even this higher yield is a mirage. The cost for sprays and other pesticides is so high that your cost of production goes up.
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