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Seed technology can give a major head start in country’s agriculture: Syed Fakhar Imam

Islamabad, July 30, 2020 (PPI-OT): Seed technology can give a major head start in country’s agriculture. This was said by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research (NFS and R), Syed Fakhar Imam while having a video link meeting about cotton with Agriculture Minister of Punjab, Malik Nauman Ahmad Langrial issues on Thursday .Syed Fakhar Imam was of the point of that as per Rules of Business, NFS and R is a policy planner for country’s agriculture and despite 18th amendment, NFS and R and provincial agricultural departments must work in harmony.

He added that we need to modernize our seed technology of major crops. The GMO cotton varieties planted in Pakistan is First Generation Bt cotton which has disoriented its resistance against PBW and caused severe damage to cotton crop during last season. New seed technology belongs to MNCs seems not interested to introduce in Pakistan. Some of the local public and private research institutes have developed multiple gene varieties, which proved too effective in preliminary trials. The genes have passed through clearance from National Bio safety from NBC of M/o Climate Change.

The normal approval process requires two year’s testing in NCVT, 2-year DUS trial and clearance from NBC. Considering the need of the day, the Punjab Government has proposed to shorten the approval process and accord provisional approval on the bases of one-year trials to varieties having new technology or extraordinary traits. This requires a change in Seed Rules, which is under submission for the consideration. Syed Fakhar Imam stated that a four member committee shall be constituted on Seed Act. Secretary NFS and R, Omar Hameed Khan will make terms of reference and within 3 weeks recommendations shall be made.

After 18th Constitutional amendments, Province Punjab promulgated its own pesticide regulation rules and enforced. The Federal Government regulates pesticide import, and its quality has the mandate to ensure pesticide quality at import and pesticide formulation plants. Punjab also requested to notify Agriculture Officers as seed inspectors under Section 28 (a) of the Seed Act 1976 to enhance regulation and crackdown against brown bag seed business. The revitalization of Punjab Seed Corporation was also discussed in the meeting.

Punjab Seed Corporation was a source of cotton and wheat seed for not only Punjab but also used to cater to the seed requirement of KP and Sindh. The presence of public sector entities in field sets a baseline for the private sector. Secondly, public sector seed production can come into the business for the vulnerable community and crops like pulses.

Considering the lower seed supplies by private seed companies during the current year also compels the public sector to produce at least 20% share of seed production of major crops like wheat and cotton. The prices of seed may be fixed at a reasonably lower side. Pesticides for whitefly management were discussed by the Technical Committee represented by provinces, academia, DPP, and PCCC and finalized a list. Provinces have to process and select reputed firms for disbursement of subsidy.

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