ISLAMABAD: The Bet­ter Cotton Initiative (BCI) on Tuesday sought assistance of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to help growers develop better lint as a sustainable mainstream commodity of the country.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Mehboob Sultan met with a delegation of BCI led by its Director of Global Imple­mentation Alia Malik.

With headquarters in London and Geneva, BCI is the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world.

Ms Malik said the success of the response in Pakistan regarding sustainable cotton is encouraging but more is yet to be achieved.

BCI Regional Director for Pakistan and Central Asia, Shafiq Ahmad said water management, pesticides, soil depletion, small holder poverty and habitat loss were major challenges.

Mr Sultan informed BCI officials that the government has launched the agriculture emergency programme although cotton is not its component.

However, increased cotton production is a goal of the government, he added.

“We are working with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for potential growing of cotton in a bid to increase its cultivation area,” he further said.

In Pakistan, about 1.5 million smallholder farmers rely on cotton for a living.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2019