Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam on Tuesday stressed the need for developing high quality varieties of seeds of cotton to boost output of the crop in the country. Addressing inauguration of Cotton Productivity Enhancement Programme ICARDA here, the minister said the cotton crop has suffered a lot during the recent years due to climate change and substandard seed quality. He said the production had gone down from over 12 million bales about a decade ago to only around seven million bales. The cotton leaf curl virus has worse effects on cotton production of Pakistan as goes to most of the countries in the world. He said the collaboration with the US in developing quality cotton seeds would help Pakistan in boosting the production of the crop. The minister said especially in the last three years, the cotton growers suffered a lot due to its sensitivity. In Sindh last year he said about half of the cotton was destroyed due to untimely watering. “Unlike the other four crops, cotton production has become very sensitive,” he added. But in the larger contents of our economy there is no substitute for cotton and unless and until this country has produced scientists of international level who can produce good results, they cannot have cotton varieties suitable to our climate, he added. Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) Dr Azeem Khan on the occasion said due to collaboration with the US “we have been able to receive quite a large number of Germplasm which are tested in Pakistan.” He said with the help of these Germplasm being received from the US, numerous new varieties were being developed which were at advanced stages. Furthermore, he said many new seed varieties would also be available in a few years which would ultimately enhance cotton production in the country. The International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are supporting Pakistan’s efforts to tackle cotton leaf curl virus – strengthening research efforts and developing cotton varieties that are resistant to the disease.