Local University Produces Organic Cotton in Karachi for the first time

Web DeskOctober 16, 2023

The International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi (UoK) has successfully cultivated multiple generations of cotton in Karachi with low energy costs in a year.
This is the first time Organic Cotton has been grown in Karachi, and this experimental production can be expanded with the support of the federal and provincial governments in Sindh and Balochistan.
The ICCBS – University of Karachi spokesman said that this was possible due to weather conditions in Karachi being suitable for cotton growth. The optimization of the weather conditions has provided the ICCBS research team, working under the supervision of Dr. Shahid Mansoor, at the Biotechnology Wing of the HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry an opportunity to grow multiple generations of cotton in a year, the official said.

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In a meeting, held at the HEJ Institute, Prof. Dr. Farzana Shaheen, the Director of the ICCBS – University of Karachi, congratulated Dr. Shahid Mansoor and his team for conducting successful research by producing multiple generations of cotton in a year in the weather of Karachi. She said this kind of research was need of the hour for the socio-economic progress of the country.
Dr. Shahid Mansoor, in the meeting, said that in the last year, we had been able to grow multiple generations of cotton in Karachi with low energy costs. The ICCBS research team, however, had not found any evidence of cotton leaf curl disease or major cotton pests in the product, he declared.

Cotton has been the most important economic crop that provides the raw material for the textile industry, the largest industrial sector of Pakistan, he said, adding that under the climate change scenario, cotton is facing emerging challenges. He said, “Moreover, competition with food crops is another challenge for cotton farmers.”

In other countries such as China, cotton production has been shifted to dry areas, he said, and maintained that China was now producing more than 90 percent of its cotton in Xinjiang province.

He pointed out that the climatic conditions in Balochistan and other dry areas offered a new opportunity to produce quality cotton. Since cotton is grown in these areas by using groundwater, there is a growing need to produce water-use-efficient cotton varieties, he added.

The rapid genetic gain in cotton requires that cotton breeding is fast-tracked by growing multiple generations in a year, he observed. To achieve this goal glass houses are usually used for generation advancement which requires energy use to maintain the high temperature and light intensity required for cotton growth, he said.

He told the meeting that the first generation was grown in December and initially, plants were maintained in a glass house without any heating or extra lights. The second generation was grown in normal season and seeds were harvested in July and the third generation has already reached flowering and boll formation, he added.

The optimization of these conditions provides an opportunity to grow multiple generations of cotton in a year. In contrast, this optimization has now been coupled with genomic tools to ensure varietal purity, he said.

We are using this facility to purify non-GMO varieties required for organic cotton production, he said, adding that the research team also intends to use this facility to use genome editing tools for the improvement of cotton yield, and resistance to environmental stresses and to improve cotton fiber as per the requirement of the textile industry.

The facility can be expanded with the support of the federal and provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan, he observed. The textile sector can contribute to the cause by supporting the development of cotton varieties that produce the fiber quality required by the textile industry, he said.

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