The ODA, through the Natural Resources Institute, has been assisting the Government of Pakistan since 1985 in identifying ways of improving the control of cotton pests in an environmentally benign manner. Assistance is also being provided by the Asian development bank, the European Commission, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World bank and agro-chemical companies.
As the Minister knows, for the past two years the cotton crop in Pakistan has been affected by a peculiar virus and has reduced by more than half to less than 6 million bales a year. In Pakistan's own view, it is a crisis. What help is being given to Pakistan in terms of expertise and finance to overcome that particular problem?
We have an excellent organisation called the Natural Resources Institute, which is funded by the ODA. Through the Natural Resources Institute, we have spent £1 million in recent years on research into cotton pest control in Pakistan. As the hon. Gentleman said, cotton is Pakistan's most important crop. In recent years it has been attacked by viruses, pest infestations and floods, and we have been working extremely hard with the Pakistan Government and with best science in this country to ensure that much of the crop is saved for the benefit of the people of Pakistan.