ISLAMABAD: National Assembly’s Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research on Thursday recommended to impose ban on the import of cotton in order to protect and safeguard the interests of local farmers.

The committee, which met with MNA Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan in chair, called for taking special measures to encourage the local farmers to bring more areas under cotton cultivation that would help in saving the country’s foreign exchange reserves that were usually consumed on 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.

The committee expressed its deep concerns over a decline in cotton production that had reached to 8.5 million bales and asked for taking all possible measures to enhance the output of the crop.

Briefing the committee, Ministry of National Food Security and Research Secretary 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.

Popalzai informed the meeting participants that the farmers from South Punjab were facing problems in selling their produces.

He further said a meeting was held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan, which had suggested several measures to promote cotton on large scale.

He said a committee had also been constituted to announce support price for cotton crop for coming season, adding the commit would also look into the import of PB Robs to control attack of pink ball worm, and seed sector reforms.

Furthermore, the NA committee accorded the approval for proposed Public Sector Development Program 2020-21 worth Rs23.32 billion of the MoNFSR 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 development would be initiated during next fiscal year.

Separately, the committee expressed its displeasure over third consecutive absence of NFSR Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar in the meeting.

The committee unanimously proposed to write to the National Assembly Speaker regarding continues absence of the minister concerned in the meeting.

The chair urged the Speaker to direct Bakhtiar to ensure his presence in the meetings for appropriate policy and legislation regarding agriculture sector development in the country.


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