The government of Pakistan is in talks with US agricultural firm Monsanto to implement its Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) cotton technology - in a bid to double the country's cotton production by the year 2015.

Monsanto would organise BT cotton seed cultivation in the country as part of the deal, receiving $1.2bn in royalties during the next ten years as the technology is transferred to local seed companies.

Pakistan is the third largest consumer and fourth largest producer of cotton in the world, and exports around 80% of its cotton by converting it into different textiles and clothing products worth of around $10bn annually.

However, the country's cotton production has stagnated at around 2m tons, while cotton consumption has passed the 2.7m tons mark due to the massive expansion in textile and clothing output in the past five years.

Monsanto is the world's leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) cotton seeds, and said the BT technology would bring significant benefits for Pakistan's cotton farmers in terms of increasing cotton yield, decreasing losses due to various pests, and enhancing farm income.

Suhail Haral, former chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) told just-style that the government should also take steps to establish an organised cotton marketing system in the country to ensure competitive cotton prices for the cotton farmers.

By Ahmed Abdullah.