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WWF-Pakistan and AED Balochsitan promote organic cotton farming

Posted on 23 May 2016

Karachi, WWF-Pakistan and the Agriculture Extension Department (AED) Balochistan signed an MoU to initiate a formal partnership for capacity building of organic cotton farmers in Balochistan in order to meet organic cotton standards. The MoU signing ceremony took place at the office of Director General AED Balochistan and was signed by Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan and Masood Ahmed Baloch, Director General AED Balochistan, in the presence of Abdul Rahman Buzdar , Secretary Agriculture Balochistan.

In 2015 WWF-Pakistan and Control Union Sri Lanka carried out an audit and inspection of 500 cotton growers in Lasbella district, Balochistan. The outcomes were deemed encouraging and as a result WWF-Pakistan launched a three-year organic cotton projectin 2016, in Lasbela, Sibi and Barkhan districts of Balochistan.

The project aims to improve the income and yield of organic cotton farmers through capacity building. This will be achieved by making organic cotton production sustainable and involving supply chain actors so that an effective system is in place for the procurement of organic seed cotton, supported by creating a local and national facilitating environment.

Speaking on the occasion Hammad Naqi Khan, DG WWF-Pakistan expressed his support to introduce organic farming techniques in Balochistan. “WWF-Pakistan aims to make cotton production sustainable and in principle will provide every possible support to the organic cotton farmers through its sustainable agriculture programme (SAP).” Masood Ahmed Baloch, Director General AED Balochistan lauded the services of WWF-Pakistan and showed his resolve to work with the organisation to improve cotton farming techniques in the province. He said that “As the Agriculture Extension Department (AED) Balochistan has been providing technical assistance to farmers in the province; the AED is a natural partner of WWF-Pakistan regarding capacity building of organic cotton farmers.” According to Abdul Rahman Buzdar , Secretary Agriculture Balochistan,“The MoU will be helpful in bringing the farmers of Balochistan at par with international farming techniques. Given what we expect to come out from this collaboration between the two organisations, we expect that it will be good tidings for our farming communities.”

Organic cotton is grown without using any chemical fertilizers or pesticides and is cultivated on land that is detoxified from residues of chemical fertilizers and pesticides over a period of at least three years. The seeds used to grow organic cotton are not genetically modified and are kept clean from chemical impurities during processing and packaging.

If the cotton crop produced adheres to the standards of organic cotton farming in its initial two years it is called in conversion cotton and in the third year the yield is certified as organic Cotton. The transformation will take place under the supervision of WWF-Pakistan and a certified verifying body which will carry out vigilant inspection on the quality of the cotton crop.

Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world and the third largest exporter of raw cotton. Cotton and cotton products contribute about 10 per cent to GDP and 55 per cent to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. On the whole between 30 and 40 per cent of cotton is consumed domestically as final products. The remaining is exported as raw cotton, yarn, cloth, and garments.

Cotton, known as a thirsty crop, uses more than 20,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and pair of jeans (as documented in the WWF reportThe Impact of Cotton on Freshwater Resources and Ecosystems).Unsustainable cotton farming, with massive inputs of water and pesticides, has already been responsible for the destruction of large-scale ecosystems and the deteriorating health and livelihoods of people living there.

Hence,given the importance of cotton for Pakistan’s economy, initiatives are needed to make cotton growing sustainable.


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