ISLAMABAD - Due to shortage of water during Kharif season, Punjab could miss over 15 percent while Sindh could have 32 per cent lesser yield of cotton, Senate Standing Committee on Food Security was told on Wednesday.

The meeting was held under the chair of Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain. Secretary Pakistan Central Cotton Committee briefed the meeting on expected shortfall in production of cotton in the current Kharif season, and the reasons as why the country failed in evolving quality certified seeds which could enhance production and progress after the Plant Breeders Act 2016.

The committee was informed that extraordinary shortage of water during Kharif season had adversely affected cotton sowing. However, Punjab achieved 85 percent of the target and Sindh achieved 68 percent of the target.

While discussing reasons as why Pakistan failed to produce quality certified seeds, the officials said the BT cotton varieties contained Boll Gourd gene that was losing effectiveness. The cotton crop has a number of new challenges such as high temperatures, unexpected rains and resistance to new pests and diseases, the officials said.

Discussing progress after the passage of the Plant Breeders Act 2016, it was revealed that a meeting was held with multinational companies and their Association, Crop Life, at the Ministry on September 26. Officials said that the companies showed no interest in setting up cotton seed business in Pakistan.

Chairman of the Committee directed Chairman NARC to submit a report on contribution made by the institute on seed research on various crops.  He said that even the Prime Minister had shown concern that Pakistan was falling back on Indian imports for the seeds of major crops.  He directed that this report must be submitted within a week.

One of the major reasons for the shortage of cotton crop against the target is higher pesticide prices, he said. He asked Pakistan Central Cotton Committee to make recommendations to address the issue so that the cost of production in cotton circulation might be contained.

While discussing water shortage in the Indus System, Chairman Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah directed that IRSA should submit terms of reference regarding its meeting with the Council of Common Interest (CCI). He further instructed that the meeting of committee of the Attorney General which is due soon, must deliberate on the issue of flood canals and their opening in the wake of acute water shortage in the system. He also stressed the need to enquire whether the opinion of the lower riparian was sought on opening these canals which affect growers in the region.