Trade: (Concern expressed over plight of cotton farmers)

ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the United International Group Mian Shahid on Sunday demanded a bailout package for cotton farmers affected by recent collapse of the crop less it hurt the cotton group which is mainstay of the economy.

Disappointed farmers are switching to other crops which can reduce area under cotton cultivation by 20 percent which will bring production down, he said.

He said textile sector will be hard pressed as four billion dollars will be needed to import cotton which will hit forex reserves and GDP growth. He said textile and cotton exports help country earn 12 billion dollars while it provide jobs to millions which deserves urgent attention of the authorities.

The main reason behind cotton collapse has been attributed to substandard imported seed which was not immune from pest attack as claimed and absence of any spray to kill pink bollworm which destroyed 60 percent of the crop.

He also blamed reduced cotton prices at home and on the international market which has proved to be another disincentive for the millions of farmers depending on cotton crop as they continue to pay heavy input prices.

Persistent rains this season restricted the pesticides resulting in sharp fall in output which was beyond the control of anyone but use of BT seeds can controlled, he opined. Mian Shahid asked the provincial and federal governments to bailout cotton sector otherwise the situation can take a wrong turn.