LAHORE: A body of national seed companies has hailed Punjab government’s decision of dropping Bt Cotton deal, terming it a step in the right direction.
The Monsanto Bt Cotton deal would have created a monopoly of the company and killed the national seed sector, said Shahzad Ali Malik, President, Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) in a statement on Saturday.
By not accepting the deal, he observed, Punjab Government has avoided an unnecessary financial burden, as Monsanto’s royalty demands for Bollgard-2 technology were too high and aimed at creating monopoly.
The national seed sector appreciates the need to introduce technology, but in an open and fair way, so that all seed companies operating in Pakistan can have level playing field, he said.
Throughout the last three years, Monsanto was demanding a per acre royalty fee for its technology but failed to demonstrate that its technology would significantly increase yields or be effective against Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) or mealy bug, which are the main crop threats against cotton crop in Pakistan.
The so-called best technology was ineffective against CLCV, White Fly and Mealy bugs so its utility and financial guarantees would have cost the Punjab Government with no added benefits than current varieties seeds.
Malik, who is also former President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said government should concentrate on improving the Research and Development institutes and create linkages with eminent foreign institutes, which would allow our scientists to gain better understanding of the local crop pests and improve the technologies relating to agriculture.
The Punjab Government had explored the possibility of introducing Bt Cotton technology (Bollgard-2 and Round up Ready Flex) but the company demanded guarantees and royalties, which virtually meant guaranteeing pay-offs. However, Malik said, after detailed discussions, it became clear that the cost of this technology was too high and there was no guarantee of any cotton yield increase, Malik added.
Reports from Australia, India and other countries proved that government’s involvement in this issue would be like protecting one company and discouraging its competitors, he observed.
“We can increase yields by 2-3 million immediately if we are able to improve seed quality and develop a remedy for CLCV. “The national seed sector remains committed to strive continuously in this direction and provide better seeds to farmers,” said Malik.