ISLAMABAD   -    Pakistan-China collaboration on nanotechnology to revolutionise production technologies, China Economic Net (CEN) reported on Tuesday quoting Prof Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Honorary Chairman of Pak-China Bio-health Cooperation Project, ex-chairman of Pakistan Science and Foundation.

“We are working in collaboration with Northwest A&F University, China, to explore the effectiveness of nano-nutrients such as nano-biochar and liquid formulations containing a variety of nano-nutrients to improve the productivity of different potential crops such as wheat, maize, and several summer and winter vegetables,” said Prof Dr Ashraf who is also Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lahore.

“In doing so, we hope to meet the challenges of food insecurity, especially under the backdrop of climate change,” he added.

Currently, water shortage and temperature extremities are affecting crop production and quality in Pakistan. During the initial phase of the experimentation under the cooperation project, researchers conducted a trial to maximise plant water use efficiency through various mulching.

Together with the nano-biochar application, “This benefited the crop water use efficiency to a great extent and increased productivity to signify large-scale applications,” Prof Dr Muhammad Ashraf told CEN.

“Stress-tolerant crops (heat and drought-tolerant cultivars) together with water-saving technologies like mulching, drip irrigation, etc will help combat the climate challenges,” Prof Dr Muhammad Ashraf recommends.

According to him, significant progress has been made over the past decade, and numerous stress-tolerant cultivars/genotypes of economically important and edible crops have been identified. In the next step, the workgroup of the cooperation project will apply organic nano-materials to various field crops, including wheat, maize, rice, cotton, and sugarcane.

“The experiments of organic nano-materials application will be performed in the fields of local farmers, which is the ultimate objective of this collaborative research project between Pakistan and China to promote agriculture and revolutionise state-of-the-art production technologies,” said Prof Dr Muhammad Ashraf.

The primary objective of Pakistan-China nanotech cooperation is to assess the real-time influence of nano-materials, particularly of organic nature (nano-biochar and nano-nutrients) if they could promote the growth of potential crops.