The Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research was held on Thursday. Chaired by Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, the meeting was attended by Senator Muhmmad Ali Jamot, Senator Imamuddin Shouqeen and senior officers from the Ministry for National Food Security and Research, IRSA, PARC and Central Cotton Committee.
The Committee was briefed by the Secretary Pakistan Central Cotton Committee on expected shortfall in the production of cotton for Kharif season in 2018, reasons why Pakistan failed in evolving quality certified seeds which can enhance production and progress after the plant breeders Act 2016.
The Committee was informed that extraordinary shortage of water during the current Kharif season had adversely affected cotton sowing. However, Punjab achieved 85 percent of the target and Sindh 68 percent.
While discussing reasons why Pakistan has failed to produce quality certified seeds, the Committee was informed that BT cotton varieties contain the Boll Gourd gene that is losing effectiveness. The cotton crop has a number of new challenges such as high temperatures, unexpected rains and resistance to new pests and diseases.
Discussing progress after the passage of the Plant Breeders Act 2016 it was revealed that a meeting was held with Multinational Companies and their Association Crop Life at the Ministry on 26 September, 2018. The Committee was informed that the companies showed no interest in setting up cotton seed business in Pakistan.
Chairman Committee, Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah directed Chairman NARC to submit a report to the Committee on the contribution made by the institute on seed research on various crops. He said that even the Prime Minister has shown concern that Pakistan is falling back on Indian imports for the seeds of major crops. He directed that this report must be submitted within a week.
One of the major reasons for the shortage of the cotton crop against the target is also higher pesticide prices. He asked the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee to make recommendations to address the issue so that the cost of production in cotton circulation may be contained.
While discussing water shortage in the Indus System, Chairman Committee Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah directed that IRSA submit the terms of reference regarding its meeting with the Council of Common Interest (CCI). He further instructed that the meeting of Committee of the Attorney General which is due soon, must deliberate on the issue of flood canals and their opening in the wake of acute water shortage in the system. He also stressed the need to inquire whether the opinion of the Lower Riparian was sought, when opening these canals which affect growers in the region.