ISLAMABAD - Hybrid seeds can only help to tackle food shortage in Pakistan with bumper production which can even be grown on less fertile land in arid areas as well.

Talking to a delegation of progressive farmers from Layyah led by Muhammad Rashid Bhutta here Sunday, the Chairman United Business Group (UBG) in the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shahzad Ali Malik said in the wake of Russia-Ukraine conflict, wheat prices have risen globally about 60 percent which has brought immeasurable consequences to whole of world.

Wheat imports from Ukraine accounts for nearly 40% of Pakistan’s total wheat imports, he said adding that Pakistan also witnessed food inflation upto 40% in July compared to corresponding year. He said as the staple food crop in Pakistan, wheat is planted in nearly 40 percent of cultivated area and accounts for 70% of total agricultural production but yields are not upto international standard because of the absence of use of best quality seeds and lack of subsidies on essential inputs.

He said sadly a heatwave swept through South Asia this summer, a “silent death” that affected wheat crops.

He said use of non-certified seeds and irrational use of fertilizers are factors responsible for low yields.

Shahzad Ali Malik said Dr Abdul Rashid of Guard Agricultural Research and Services conducted research on hybrid rice on self-help basis in 2010 and successfully evolved new variety of hi-tech hybrid rice which has brought revolution in agriculture particularly in interior Sindh that enhanced the profitability of rice growers with bumper production.

About custom-made wheat variety, he said there is dire need to work closely with Beijing engineering research centre for developing the best quality pest and disease resistant hybrid wheat seed that will increase yield at least 50% more than our local varieties.

He said in response to the heatwave and climate change in Pakistan, hybrid wheat seed can continue to grow at a high temperature.

Shahzad Ali Malik stressed the need for use of modern technologies of cultivation and harvesting with best quality certified seeds and proper ratio of fertilisers besides timely sowing that guarantees good yields.

He said Pakistan is one of the biggest agricultural country in the world which not only meet its needs but also exports substantially to earn foreign exchange.