Cotton is historically one of Pakistan's top cash crops, along with oil seeds and fruit.  Pakistan's economy is reliant on the cotton industry, which accounts for 11 percent of GDP and 60 percent of total exports.  It is the fourth-largest producer of cotton in the world. 
More recently, cotton production in Pakistan has struggled due to pests. The typical solution has been increasing pesticide use, from 665 tons used in 1980 to 45,000 tons used today.  But this has not stopped the pests, as some pests like the mealy bug have built up immunities and continued to multiply.  More importantly, the increased use of pesticides have severely affected the health of Pakistanis, especially in rural areas, and degraded the surrounding environment. 
Projects for a solution[edit | edit source]
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) completed a project in late 2009 aimed at the best practices for sustainable cotton farming. The WWF stressed using the best practices for sustainable cotton farming. It also was a major proponent of water conservation with cotton. Cotton is a major cause of the freshwater crisis in Pakistan. The WWF project also went after reducing the use of pesticedes. The water is inevitably polluted by mass use of chemical fertilizers. 
Farmer Field School (FFS) is another agricultural conservation initiative building steam in Pakistan. This educates each farmer on how to reduce their dependence on pesticides and try to be environmentally safe. This method of teaching farmers new and improved strategies is group based and has been used by other governments and NGOs to promote integrated pest management. Integrated pest management uses more complimentary, natural pest abatement strategies. Much like the U.S. agricultural system, the role of private corporations in determining the increased use of pesticides in Pakistan has been huge. 
Another project is underway by CABI, a non-profit science and information organization. This project, ending in 2011, is attempting to boost the natural predators of cotton pests like the mealy bug. One plan is to review certain pesticides that may have been killing off natural predators. Another possibility is to introduce an exotic predator to the Pakistan environment, which could potentially take care of the mealy bug and other pests. CABI also is doing a school much like the Farmer Field School, where model farms are created, and the connection between cotton farmers is tightened.