WHERE THE paucity of water, environment degradation, floods, land erosion and fast urbanization have cast negative effects on agriculture in Pakistan, lack of provision of quality and certified seeds is equally responsible for the constant decline in per acre yield. Black-marketing, high prices and interrupted supply of certified seeds have always been a grey area for the farmers, who find it hard to withstand besides all other odds like fertilizers availability and water shortage especially in rain-fed areas of the country. In developed countries, cottonseed, for instance, is subjected to various processes to get maximum utilities of seeds. Whereas in Pakistan 90 per cent of cottonseed is directly crushed to obtain oil and meal, and 7 to 8 per cent oil is extracted by oil expellers and rest of khalli or meal is used as animal feed. The demand of delinted cotton is growing in the world as raw material for Viscose especially pulp, while in Pakistan it is being wasted as mixed with Khalli during crushing process. About 15 years back India had quit using this process of crushing and since then it is applying the modern technology to achieve maximum benefit of cottonseed. Pakistan, being a signatory to the international Cartagena Protocol on Bio-Safety, is bound to regulate Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) by setting up a bio-safety system. However, the National Bio-safety Committee, tasked to evaluate, regulate and monitor GMO for lab/field research and recommend their production on commercial scale, has not met since February 2011, and subsequently delayed the whole regulatory process. At the same time, lack of authorised provision to basic seed production and plant breeders right besides dearth of intellectual property rights have emerged as bottlenecks in the development of new seed varieties. Moreover, despite rapid growth in private seed companies there is little trained manpower in the sector. There is a dire need to develop human resource in seed technology and introduce a unique seed certification and delivery programme which can boost the production of quality certified seeds and distribution. Wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane are our cash crops and the installation of at least quality seeds mechanism, in addition to providing hand-on training to manpower, can jack up the overall farm yields. Certified seed production needs to be increased within the country and this can be possible only through revamping the existing system as well as providing latest testing facilities, otherwise food security would continue to haunt the nation.
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