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Farmers anticipate better cotton produce in forthcoming years
Mar '08
Local research institutes in Pakistan have failed to successfully introduce Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt cotton) varieties and this has forced the Government to collaborate with multinational company for acquiring second-generation technology.

What concerns the agricultural industry is the fact that local markets are plagued by inferior quality or counterfeit Bt cotton seed of low yielding variety.

These inferior quality seeds are smuggled from neighboring countries but farmers fail to understand that these are not suitable for Pakistan's environment.

Seeing the situation getting worse, Government has taken initiative to bring about a solution. It has asked the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad and Center of Excellence Molecular Biology (CEMB) Lahore, to develop locally suitable Bt varieties to meet the country's requirement.

Besides, under the Seed Act, import of seed from foreign countries is prohibited while international companies could not sell any kinds of seeds in the local market unless they join hands with local firms.

Experts believe that conventional seed companies will get highly affected by the introduction of Bt cotton since their business is bound to get contracted.

Presently, the share of BT cotton in total world cotton production has reached 30 percent and is expected to touch the 40 percent by 2010.

Decline in cotton output can be attributed to the counterfeit seeds of Bt cotton available in the market and also to the fungus attack of the mealy bug.

The NIBGE, Faisalabad has recently developed insect-resistant Bt cotton known as IRFH-901. This will be the first ever home-grown variety used for commericial cultivation in Pakistan.

Farmers are hopeful that this new variety will help them tide-over the present difficulties and enhance the production of cotton.

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