A high-level delegation of American cotton scientists visited Pakistan last week to review progress and plan new strategies with Pakistani counterparts to fight the Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV), a devastating disease that affects cotton yields in Pakistan and caused the loss of an estimated 1.5 million bales or 15 percent of this year’s total harvest.
According to a US Embassy statement issued on Tuesday, the team visited labs in Lahore and Faisalabad and observed experimental disease-resistant cotton breeds grown in greenhouses provided by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The visit is part of a multi-year collaboration with Pakistani scientists to develop a cotton seed resistant to CLCV. This cooperation between U.S. and Pakistani scientists on cotton is a prime example of the work the United States does to enhance the productivity of Pakistan’s agricultural sector, especially for small farmers, the statement said.
Dr. Brian Scheffler, USDA’s Lead Scientist in the Cotton Productivity Enhancement Program (CPEP), was impressed with the progress that Pakistani counterparts at the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARC), the University of Punjab Institute of Agricultural Sciences, the Central Cotton Institute in Multan and Sakarand, and others, had made.
Pakistani scientists are painstakingly testing thousands of samples of cotton germ plasm to find a high-yielding cotton seed variety that provides protection from CLCV.
Dr. Scheffler said, “Pakistani researchers have made impressive progress in their work to combat this devastating agricultural disease. USDA is pleased to support efforts to reduce the impact of CLCV on Pakistan’s cotton crop and improve harvest yields for Pakistani farmers.”
The US Department of Agriculture helps Pakistani scientists and farmers enhance agricultural productivity to improve livelihoods and meet Pakistan’s growing food security needs.
This initiative is just one part of a comprehensive U.S. economic growth assistance program which includes expanding irrigation by more than 200,000 acres near the Gomal Zam and Satpara dams; constructing more than 1,000 km of roads to connect communities and facilitate trade; modernizing dairy farms in Punjab; and launching private equity investment funds to help small and medium businesses grow.