A crackdown against the fake seeds companies has been launched in the country, while the government seeks to restrict the number to 200 firms which are actually doing the business in order to ensure provision of quality seed to the farmers across the country.

At a briefing to reporters on Friday, National Food Security Minister Syed Fakhar Imam and Secretary Ghufran Memon said that the agriculture sector, which was the backbone of the economy, has been one of the priority areas of the present government.

During the briefing, Imam stressed the need for provision of quality cotton seed to the formers. Memon added that a phased crackdown has been launched against fake companies, adding that only those companies that were doing business will remain registered.

Describing cotton as the most important crop, the minister said that it was severely affected this year but three important steps had been taken to increase its production. “It has been decided to subsidise the cotton crop,” he added.

“The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved subsidies on cotton seeds, fertilisers and white fly pesticides,” Imam said. “The subsidies will be provided directly to the farmers through the provinces,” he added.

Imam said that the plant breeder bill and the seed bill had been on hold for the last 20 years. “For the first time in our government’s tenure, these bills have been passed and practical work is starting on them,” the minister said.

According to the minister, agriculture, livestock and fisheries projects are under way under the Agricultural Emergency Programme. “The use of research and technology to promote agriculture is a top priority,” he said, adding: “We will end the role of middle man in agriculture.”

Security Memon said that there were more seed companies registered in Pakistan than in India. “There are about 1,000 seed companies registered in Pakistan. It is recommended that not more than 200 seed companies should be registered,” he added.

Recommendations are being made not to cancel the registration of companies, he said, but made it clear that only those companies which were actually doing the business will remain registered. “A phased crackdown has been launched against non-compliant and fake companies,” he added.