Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world. Pakistan’s economy relies heavily on its cotton and textile sectors. The cotton-processing and textile industries make up almost half of the country’s manufacturing base, while cotton is Pakistan’s principal industrial crop, supplying critical income to rural households. Altogether, cotton-textile sectors account for 11% of GDP and 60% of export receipts. However, the future of this vital component of the national economy is uncertain.
As part of its Global Conservation Programme, WWF aims to help make cotton cultivation part of a sustainable industry so as to make its production environment friendly and to reduce its impacts on priority ecosystems. WWF – Pakistan, which is country’s largest environmental organization, took a step and launched “PSCI (Pakistan Sustainable Cotton Initiative)” in 2005 in collaboration with WWF – Int’l and IKEA, where several BMPs (Better Management Practices) have been introduced and implemented, regarding application of draught resistant / tolerant cotton seed varieties, best sowing techniques, improved irrigation practices, soil conditioning techniques, pest management and tillage operations.
Through Farmers Training of Facilitators (FToF) and Farmer Field Schools (FFS) WWF – P is training farmers to adopt BMPs to grow Better Cotton through reduced/need based use of Agro chemicals. During weekly sessions of FFS, participating farmers perform CESA (Cotton Eco System Analysis) in the cotton field which include making close observations of soil and the crop. They also learn to identify different pests and beneficial insects and make decisions to adopt different crop management practices pertaining to pest, irrigation and fertility management accordingly. This training and awareness about pests & pesticides, irrigation & fertility indicators has grown the aspiration of the farmers to optimize use of water and fertilizers and control pests by natural or biological measures. Use of homemade organic botanical extracts offers a solution to replace chemical/synthetic pesticides.