INCREASING COTTON PRODUCTION

Nuclear scientists claim to bring a cotton revolution

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Jul 10 - 16, 2000

Pakistan, already a major cotton growing country, will be taking up its cotton yield from average size of crop i.e. 8-10 million bales to 15 million bales within next two years.

This was claimed by the renowned nuclear scientist Samar Mubarakmand while addressing a meeting organized by All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) in Karachi last week. Dr.Samar was accompanied by a team of scientists including Dr. Javed Aslam, Dr. Mohammad Ashraf and Dr.Mohammad Jamil.

With a sense of confidence, Samar said that there would be a cotton revolution in the country with record production of 15 million bales. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was presently developing 3 varieties of cotton seeds of high yields, pest resistant and adjustable to varied degrees of environmental changes.

Dr.Samar accompanied by other scientists in the agriculture sector, also assured to extend PAEC's assistant in producing textile machinery within Pakistan. Currently Pakistan has to import its entire need of textile machinery from abroad due to non-existence of textile machinery manufacturing base in Pakistan. Initially, he said that we can help in producing spare parts and later on manufacturing capital machinery.

As far as cotton production is concerned, the estimated size of the cotton crop is around 11 million bales this year. He said that only those varieties will be commercially launched which are duly certified by the government.

After having satisfactory trials for these varieties by next year they will be put up for certification and thereafter will go for multiplication of seeds.

While developing a cottonseed, Samar said that scientists and researchers are faced with odds which also means if yield is increased to an extent, the life span of seed declines and if strength is improved it affects staple length.

Consequently, he said a balance has to be struck so that a variety was acceptable to both growers as well as to textile industry.

Presently Nuclear Institute of Agriculture, Tandojam, Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology, Faisalabad and National Institute Bio-Genetic Engineering Multan are working on different areas and development of seeds which include Niab 98, Karishma and Niab999.

Niab 98 is at an advanced stage and some of its results appeared during the current cotton season, while Niab 999 which is under trial and yet to be taken up for seed development is expected best in coming times.

Mohsin Aziz, Chairman of APTMA, welcoming the scientists said that Pakistan has achieved the unique distinction of becoming a nuclear power, it is also a sad reality that even after 50 years of independence we could not break the vicious circle of the poverty in our country. Pakistan, he felt, is nearly at the bottom of the league of nations in terms of per capita income, education, health, justice and social development. It is even more saddening that Pakistan has been left far behind by several countries which were behind Pakistan about 30 years ago. In the 1960s the combined exports of South Korea, Malyasia and Indonesia were less than the exports of Pakistan. But in 1999, while Pakistan's exports were only $8.4 billion per annum, the exports of South Korea were $124 billion, Malaysia $78 billion and Indonesia $50 billion. This is due to our misconception that achieving Pakistan only meant having a separate homeland for ourselves, whereas in reality freedom and independence are not only political but also economic and social. In the economic and social fields we have not only made disappointing progress but have deteriorated in real terms against comparable nations.

"Now that we have been provided an impregnable defence and protection from foreign military aggression we must concentrate all our energies on achieving optimum economic and social development. After nuclear blast, the situation demands that we must now make an economic and social blast" Mohsin observed.

Mohsin said that we must export missiles of infinite products having international quality, after rapidly turning around the sagging economy of the country. We must accelerate it towards achieving the status of a leading economic power in the world.

The textile industry of Pakistan as the largest economic sector of the country has an equally large responsibility towards economic development of the country, Mohsin admitted.

APTMA'S EXPECTATIONS BOX

In order to achieve the economic stability, Mohsin urged the team of the national scientists to urgently help in resolving the following economic issues of national importance.

1. Cotton constitutes 78 per cent of the direct cost in the textile industry is therefore the single most important factor in the variability of the textile industry and its exports. However cotton sector requires accelerated efforts for developing cotton varieties which are high yielding and pest resistant.

2. In spite of being the largest industry in the country, the textile sector has to import all its requirements of textile machinery and spares at a huge foreign exchange cost. Mohsin urged Dr. Samar to use his technical facilities and know-how to indigenously produce world class textile machinery.