Cotton cluster villages will be introduced to promote the crop by ensuring modern technology in the near future, said Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Monday.

Addressing a press conference at the Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), he said that cotton was a highly profit-generating crop as it strengthened the country’s economy and also offered job opportunities to millions of people. He pointed out that one million bales helped to generate Rs97.5 billion, adding that the government had set a target of 10 million bales for the ongoing season.

He remarked that cotton cluster villages comprising two to four union councils would be introduced in different areas. Modern farming techniques would be introduced in these cluster villages with an objective to motivate other farmers. Besides this, the government is paying keen attention to white gold (cotton) and hopefully cotton would become a strategic crop in the future, he stated. Pakistan used to export textile products worth over $15 billion annually. Last year, the country had to import 4.5 million bales of cotton for the local industry.

The minister said that the government was striving to enhance cotton production. “Special focus is on seed quality, enhancing sowing area, mechanisation and upgrading the research institutes.” About the current prices of cotton, the minister noted that the government had introduced an intervention price of Rs5,000 per 40 kg in order to facilitate the farmers. He, however, added that prices of cotton were also high in the international market. Imam suggested to the farmers to ensure clean picking of cotton so that they could fetch handsome prices for their produce.

To a question about the factors behind the decline in cotton output, he stated that climate change and pest attacks were the main causes for the decline in production, adding that present condition of the crop was satisfactory. Imam said that the government would also promote quality seeds having immense resistance against climate change and pest attacks.

He hinted that ginning factories would be convinced to modernise their units as per international standards. To a question about wheat, he said that the government was importing wheat to maintain large stocks. He also announced that the issues faced by scientists would be resolved.