NA body recommends ban on cotton import
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research here on Thursday recommended ban on the import of cotton in order to protect and safeguard the interest of local farmers.
The committee which met here with Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Member National Assembly in chair asked for taking special measures to encourage the local farmers to bring more areas under cotton cultivation that would help in saving the precious foreign exchange reserves of the country that consumed on the import.
The meeting also asked for finalizing all the modalities to announce minimum support price for cotton crop by March 15 which would encourage the local farmers to grow crop on more areas.
Meanwhile, the committee also expressed its deep concerns over the declining cotton production in country that had reached 8.5 million bales and asked for taking all possible measures to enhance the output of the crop.
Meanwhile, briefing the committee, Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research Dr Hashim Popalzai apprised the meeting that the ministry had opposed the duty free import of cotton by land route.
He further told the meeting that last year, the government had fixed the time frame for the import of cotton but this year it had not given any time limit for the import of crop that would affect the local farmers.
He said that the farmers from South Punjab was facing problems in selling their produces, adding that cotton was still available with farmers but it was not purchased by them due to different reasons.
However, he told that a meeting was held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister which had suggested several measures to promote cotton on large scale.
He said that a committee was also constituted for announcing support price for cotton crop for coming season, besides import of PB Robs to control the attack of pink ball worm and seed sector reforms.
The committee accorded the approval for proposed Public Sector Development Program 2020-21 worth Rs23.32 billion of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for 14 new and 28 ongoing developmental projects.
It was informed that 22 projects would be completed by June, 2019 and 14 new projects of agriculture sector sector development to be initiated during next fiscal year.
The committee also expressed its displeasure on consecutive absence of Minister for National Food Security and Research in the meeting of the committee. The committee noted with grave concerns that it was the third meeting of the committee after assuming the charge by Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar as minister and which was not attended by him.
The committee unanimously proposed to write to Speaker National Assembly regarding the continuous absence of the concerned minister in the meeting, besides urging the Speaker to direct him to ensure his presence in the meetings for appropriate policy and legislation regarding agriculture sector development in the country. - APP