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Govt will not allow cotton import duty-free: Bosan

MULTAN: Cotton research institutes and the cotton crop should be under supervision of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to achieve the annual production target of 20 million bales, said National Food Security and Research Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan.

Speaking at a meeting of the Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), chaired by its president Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi, Bosan said, “We are trying to cut the cost of agricultural production to bring prices of grain and other commodities to the level of international market.”

Millers demand removal of cotton import duty

Referring to the Plant Breeders Rights Bill, he said the document could not be approved for the past 13 years.

Bosan said the mango export target of 100,000 tons had already been achieved and now more than 300,000 tons of kinnow would be exported this year. He revealed plans to cultivate soya bean in Bahawalpur, Potohar, K-P and other areas.

“No duty-free cotton import will be permitted until all locally-produced cotton is sold completely,” he declared.

He said they were aware of the problems faced by the farmers growing cotton on a small area and safeguarding their interests was among key priorities of the government.

He said he was an advocate of farmer rights, but not an enemy of textile millers, adding once local stock was disposed of cotton imports could be made. “Farmers have suffered huge losses since last year; this year they brought 21% less area under cotton crop and production fell 40%.”

The minister expressed optimism that the cotton area would be increased next year because farmers had earned profit in the current season due to better production and favourable weather.

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Talking about advances made in agricultural research, the minister expressed hope that research institutes would be developed over time.

Former MCCI president Farid Mughis Sheikh said there was no justification for free trade between India and Pakistan when India was plotting to dismember Pakistan. He suggested imposing a complete ban on Indian products like auto spare parts, cotton yarn, etc.

MCCI President Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi, in his welcome address, urged the minister to get a special development package approved for Multan.

He demanded lifting the ban on cotton import immediately because there was a gap of four million bales in demand and supply.

courtesy : Express Tribune

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