Shahid demands bailout package for cotton farmers

ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the United International Group Mian Shahid on Sunday demanded a bailout package for cotton farmers affected by recent collapse of the crop.

Disappointed farmers were switching to other crops which could reduce area under cotton cultivation by 20 percent which would bring production down, he said in a statement here.

Mian Shahid said that textile sector would be hard pressed as 4 billion dollars would be needed to import cotton which would hit the foreign exchange reserves and Gross Domestic Product growth.

He said that textile and cotton exports helped the country earn 12 billion dollars while the sector provided jobs to millions so it deserved urgent attention of the authorities.

The main reason behind cotton collapse had been attributed to substandard imported seed which was not immune from pest attack as claimed and absence of any spray to kill pink bollworm which destroyed 60 percent of the crop, he added.

He also blamed reduced cotton prices at home and on the international market which had proved to be another disincentive for the millions of farmers depending on the cotton crop as they continued to pay heavy input prices.

Persistent rains this season, he opined, also restricted the pesticides resulting in sharp fall in output which was beyond the control of anyone but use of BT seeds could have been controlled.

Mian Shahid asked the provincial and federal governments to bail out the cotton sector.

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