President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said that it is years since our research institutes have not come up with new seeds for new varieties and are dormant. They need to be reactivated to introduce new healthy varieties with optimum yield levels.
He said we are importing and relying on Chinese hybrid varieties which are giving better yields but are in essence tasteless and have less life “We need to promote organic rice cultivation which can fetch better price and is considered value addition rice,” he said.
Our crop size is small and needs to be increased by focusing on land which is barren and with efforts and scientific cultivation can be made to grow rice during rice season and other commodities in off season, he added. He emphasized the need for the Small and medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) to upgrade the rice milling plants as they have old milling plants which are unable to mill the rice well and the exporters have to get the rice processed again to de-stone, polish and grade the rice.
Tahwar said Pakistan is exporting rice of $2 billion and aims to export rice of $2.5 billion this year but unfortunately the non basmati rice which contributes to 60% of the total exports remains neglected and no new variety of non basmati rice has been introduced to supplement IRRI 6 which is almost 2 decades old seed which we are relying on.
The farmers are getting poor substandard insecticides, pesticides and impotent fertilizers and there is no check on the suppliers. The farm inputs have become costly and as a result the prices of the different varieties have gone up.
He said we need to promote and increase rice cultivation because of increase in domestic consumption due to increase in population and secondly due to change in eating habits and easy cooking of rice dishes and also the cost factor.