Pakistan recently requested technological help from China in a bid to develop and introduce hybrid rice varieties in all four ecological zones of the country. The main aim of the government behind this move is to address the problem of dropping rice production, which is the second main staple of Pakistan.
China and Pakistan have been cooperating on different levels, thus it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Chinese government responded promptly to the request for help. A team of scientists from China travelled to Pakistan for a month-long visit. Adding to that, the scientists visited several core rice producing areas of Pakistan including: Swat and Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Kala Shah Kaku, Sahiwal, Multan and Rahimyar Khan in Punjab; Larkana, Sukkur and Hyderabad in Sindh; and Jafferabad, Jhal Magsi and Nasirabad in Balochistan.
Moreover, the best hybrid rice varieties were showcased, which were suitable for all four ecological zones of the country. The team of scientists from China studied the requirements of growers for hybrid rice seeds in all the zones where coarse rice production has immense potential.
As of yet, 54 rice hybrids belonging to different seed firms have been recommended for sowing by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council’s (PARC) committee that evaluates seed varieties.
According to the national coordinator of the cereal system at the PARC, Dr. Muhammad Yusuf, it has been proposed that China should continue to provide technological assistance to develop hybrid rice for at least next four to five years. Nevertheless, a yearly program will be devised in order to improve the capacity of extension workers, farmers and researchers for hybrid seed production in Pakistan.
He said that development of hybrid rice will not affect basmati, Pakistan’s supreme rice. The main idea behind this move is to enhance the productivity of hybrid or coarse varieties, which are currently in high demand in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa.