ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Textile Industry has flatly rejected a proposal for handing over its cotton wing to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, saying the department should remain associated with it.
The response came after the food security ministry asked the prime minister to give it control of the cotton department on the premise that cotton was an agricultural crop and like other cash crops, its affairs must be handled by the food ministry for smooth coordination with provinces and implementation of policies.
According to sources, the Prime Minister Secretariat, after accepting the demand, asked the food security ministry to prepare a summary and send it to the departments concerned. However, when the document reached the textile industry ministry for comments, it fiercely opposed the proposal.
“We received the summary and returned it with comments; we reject the proposal,” said a senior officer of the textile industry ministry.
Cotton had nothing to do with the food security ministry rather it was a cash crop and directly related to the textile industry, he said.
The food security ministry is seeking to take back the cotton department on the grounds that it has much relevance to the agricultural sector. It is argued that performance of the department has deteriorated under the textile ministry and a major reason cited, among other factors, is a sharp fall of 35% in cotton production in the current season.
The cotton department, which coordinates with provinces in policy matters relating to cultivation and other issues, was handed over to the textile ministry after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.
Earlier, it was working under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture before the constitutional amendment, which led to devolution of the ministry to provinces and the department was given under supervision of the Ministry of Textile Industry.
In 2012, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research was established at the federal level to ensure food security in the country. It sent a summary to then prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani seeking to take back control of the cotton department, but the premier turned down the proposal after hearing arguments of the textile ministry.
The major argument of the textile industry ministry is that cotton affairs mostly fall within its purview as almost 80% to 90% of it is consumed by the textile industry and they have nothing to do with the food ministry.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2016.