The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security & Research was held on Wednesday at Parliament Lodges Islamabad. Chaired by Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah the meeting was attended by Senator Seemi Ezdi, Senator Sania Nishtar, Senator Keshoo Bai, Senator Kamran Murtaza and senior officers from the Ministry of National Food Security & Research along with all concerned.
Matters discussed included report on Cotton Cess 2021-22 and annual collection and utilization on research leading to new varieties of cotton by Pakistan Cotton Committee. PSDP allocation for the year 2022-23 was reviewed in minute detail and information on wheat procurement by PASSCO in Sindh and Punjab was shared with the Committee as well.
While discussing the report on Cotton Cess 2021-22, the Committee stressed the need to define timelines. It emphasized the importance of independent input to ensure that the cotton grower benefits. The Committee noted with concern that there was no institutional mechanism to determine the minimum support price for major crops that had led to lack of production of cotton and wheat. The Committee recommended that the Ministry evolves a system that involves all stakeholders a month before the start of sowing season of major crops to determine cost of production and to fix the support/obligation price.
The Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PACC) was directed to submit details of amount they have received under the head of Cotton Cess and its utilization. The Committee recommended that the Ministry set up a Cotton Board consisting of representatives of provinces, farming organizations and fertilizer companies and electricity companies to ensure that the minimum support for major crops is determined a month before sowing season. This would apply to both summer and winter crops including cotton, wheat, sugar cane, rice maize and corn. Minister for National Food Security Mr. Bashir Cheema assured the Committee, that this matter will be taken up with the ECC at the earliest.
The Committee while reviewing details of the proposed Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2022-23 sought more details from the Ministry. The matter will be taken up in the next meeting.
Regarding purchase of wheat of PASSCO for 2022 the Committee was informed that the ECC target was achieved.
The Committee enquired about the progress being made for appointment of the next Chairman PARC and was informed that criteria for 20 years’ experience and Phd in a relevant subject were essential for the position. Three nominations will be sent to the Cabinet in this regard.