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The Farmers Bureau of Pakistan (FBP), a representative platform of progressive growers, has urged the government to impose agriculture and climate emergency to save the sector from a bad patch it is witnessing at present. "Cotton, rice and corn crops have almost ruined because of erratic weather, heat wave, lose control of seed trade and lack of promotion of new technologies in the agricultural sector. We may be witnessing a loss of 40 percent in rice and maize crops while cotton is also facing the same fate," said founding members of the Farmers Bureau of Pakistan.

Talking to members of the Agriculture Journalists Association (AJA) the other day, FBP founding members Dr Zafar Hayyat, Mian Shaukat, Aamir Hayat Bhandara and Imran Shah Khagga urged the government to ensure immediate intervention to save the growers.

They said maize is not a crop of South but due to poor performance of cotton, people opted for planting rice and maize. They said the companies should have told the growers that varieties being marketed by them are not meant for their region or they should plant it while keeping the weather conditions in mind.

They claimed that this year agriculture may register downward growth even lower than the previous year. They said the government should immediately improve the policies; control seed trade, introduce seed varieties resistant to climatic changes and promote the technology.

Dr Zafar Hayyat said they had formed the platform of FBP to play their role in putting the policymakers on the right path which could steer this sector out of the present marsh.

Imran Shah Khagga, another progressive grower, said that the formula of pesticides being marketed at present is 30-40 years old and it is not resistant against pests. He said pesticides of billions of rupees are imported and marketed but such medicines have no efficacy against pests rather cause illness even among human beings. He claimed that as per independent surveys we might have 12 million bales of cotton against the target of 15 million despite an increase in area under cultivation. Weight of the bales has also been reduced from 160 kg to 120-130 kg, he added.

He said our issue is pink bollworm and world has introduced cotton seed varieties which have resistance against this pest. He said we have requested the National Productivity Organisation (NPO) and other institutes concerned to ban such seed which has no proper gene expression and cannot fight against diseases prevailing in this region.

Mian Shaukat, farmer and seed producer, claimed that 75 percent of rice and corn has ruined because of bit higher temperature at the time of pollination. He said rice and maize plants are devoid of any grain. He said a law should be enacted under which seed trade could be registered under set parameters for any seed.

He said we cannot increase our production by importing seed rather hybrid seed should be developed in the country in line with our requirements. He also called for strict control over the sale of fake/stolen seeds without which, he said, no seed industry would invest in Pakistan.

LCCI Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar also called for imposing agricultural and export emergency in Pakistan. However, he claimed the present government is working in the right direction in the agricultural sector. He said agricultural machinery such as rice transplanters, rice harvesters and laser land levelers are being introduced. He also invited the growers to work in collaboration with LCCI for working on producing an exportable agricultural surplus to enhance exports.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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