LAHORE -Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA) Chairman Shahzad Ali Malik has urged scientists and researchers to focus on dedicated research for bringing about a revolution in the farm sector and increase per acre yield. Addressing the participants in a conference on Agriculture and Food Security at Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture Multan, he said evolving new hybrid seed technologies for different field crops could result in import substitution of cotton, wheat, edible oil, pulses, etc., worth $10-11 billion annually, according to a press release issued here.
He said: “We claim agriculture is the backbone of our economy but unfortunately, we import agro-commodities like cotton, wheat, edible oil, pulses etc. worth $10-11 billion per annum.” He said: “We have five major field crops in Pakistan including cotton, wheat, rice, maize and sugarcane. Out of them, only two crops -- maize and rice -- are performing well. The satisfactory performance of maize and rice is attributed to hybrid technology as both crops are outcome of hybrid seeds.
While relating the hybrid rice success story, Shahzad said that in Sindh province, IRRI rice had been cultivated since 1960s, and seed for which was acquired from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines. The IRRI rice per acre yield was stagnant at around 45 to 50 maunds per acre, and there was a need to look for an alternative. He said with the introduction of hybrid rice technology in the late 1990s, the Guard Agri, with the Chinese collaboration, emerged successful in introducing new hybrid varieties, and yield per acre doubled giving 100 to 110 maunds per acre. With this double per acre yield, the farmers’ income also doubled resulting in prosperity, poverty alleviation and socioeconomic changes, especially in the rural Sindh. On the other hand, rice exports, which were stagnant at $ 450 million in 2002, rose to $2.4 billion in 2022. Malik expressed thanks to hybrid rice technology from China, which had contributed to the increase in foreign exchange earnings from rice exports for the country.
Shahzad Malik (Sitara-i-Imtiaz) congratulated the organisers over successful conduct of the event, and commended the efforts of Prof Dr. Asif Ali, Vice Chancellor, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Agriculture University, Multan, and his team for developing wheat hybrid and working closely with the private seed companies for the commercialisation of hybrid wheat seed varieties and setting up a good example of industry-academia linkage, he concluded.