FAISALABAD - Plant breeders must expedite their efforts to develop climate resilient varieties for enhancing agriculture productivity as well as offsetting the threats of food security in the wake of fast changing environment, said Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan Vice Chancellor the University of Agriculture Faisalabad.

Addressing the 3rd International Colloquium on the challenges and opportunities of maize production organized by the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, UAF, he said that increment in the maize in the country was a success story and we have to further enhance the productivity of other crops with the same spirit. He said that Punjab had seen its maize production jumping by over 10 times from 794,000 tonnes in 2000-01 to 8.04 million tonnes  last year. He said that 40 percent of the population was facing challenges of malnutrition. “If we popularize the use of wheat-maize mixed flour, it could effectively resolve the issue of malnutrition”, he said and added that about 10pc maize mixed with wheat at the grinding stage would provide about 3 million tonnes of wheat relief which was exactly equal to the prevalent shortage of wheat in the country.

He expressed concern that this year, the maize crop comes under pest attack in addition to the ill impacts of high temperatures etc and we must evolve an effective strategy to address this issue at the national level.

Dean Faculty of Agriculture Prof Dr Amanullah Malik said that this year was spring-less with prolonged summer which resulted in severe pest attack. He stressed the need for  enhanced efforts on the part of scientists to overcome the problem. Former Dean Agriculture Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad said that total cropped area of the country  was 22 million hectare, whereas maize cropped area was 1.34 million hectare and the  share of maize crop in total GDP was 0.5. He said that maize was the third most important  cereal crop in Pakistan after wheat and rice.

 

Adding that the breeders should come up with new varieties keeping in view the pattern of changing environment.

Chairman Prof Dr Zulfiqar Ali said that all out efforts were being made to ensure food

security. He said that in the last 5 years, the corn production had doubled in the country.

“It is used as food, feed and industrial crop around the world”, he said and added that

maize crop is called “the other gold” due to its diversified industrial consumption”. He said

that Ukraine was one of the largest maize producing countries which was now under war.

Dr. Aslam also said that the event provides an opportunity to all stakeholders to sit together

to fight the challenges faced by this sector.