LAHORE: Farmers on Thursday threatened to launch countrywide protests if the textile sector’s ‘big wheels’ did not roll back their alleged plans of sourcing cheap imported cotton, ditching the locally produced fiber.
“Powerful textile millers are planning to import some 50,000 tons of cotton from Central Asia through Torkham border,” Khalid Mehmood Khokhar, President, Pakistan Kisan Itehad (PKI), claimed.
He alleged that members of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) are intending to import cotton from Torkham and Wahga borders at lower prices, which would be against the interest of local cotton growers as it would depress the cotton prices in the country.
Khokher disclosed that some two to three hundred trucks, loaded with cotton, were waiting at Torkham border for a green-signal from the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) and Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
Raw cotton can only be imported subject to the taking prior permission of DPP and taking phytosanitory measures complying with sub rule 3 of rule 28 of Plant Protection Quarantine Act 1967, which says that cotton can only be imported with prior special permission of DPP through sea routes and has to be fumigated at the port of entry.
The KPI leader also claimed that APTMA was pressurising the DPP to set aside the Quarantine Act and issue the release order to Customs authorities.
“As per law, the authority to change these rules rested with the Cabinet only and neither a minister nor any advisor can amend plant quarantine rules,” he added. Khokhar was of the view that import of raw cotton without fumigation posed great risks for the local crop as it could lead to introducing new pests and diseases in the country, causing billion of rupees of losses to the crop. He said the cost of production of cotton for local farmers was very high as almost all countries were paying huge subsidies to cotton growers. “Pakistani cotton grower cannot compete with the subsidized imported cotton from these countries,” he said lamenting.