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Hybrid seed has potential to up rice exports to $5b in 5 years

Over 100pc increase in production of rice witnessed in Sindh and new research in Punjab would yield same results: Chairman Guard Group

M Jahangir Hayat

LAHORE: Guard Agri Chief Executive Shahzad Ali Malik has stressed the need for more production of rice to achieve the target of US 5 billion dollars export in the next five years and hybrid seeds can give this more yield.

‘We are very near to achieve our targets after a hard work of five to
six years. Our scientists in collaboration with the Chinese partners
have developed 13 CMS lines out of which one variety is giving 75
maund per acres and average grain length of 7 mm, slightly short of
the target of 80 maund per acre,’ said Chief Executive Guard Agri
Shahzad Ali Malik.

Pioneer in introducing high yielding hybrid varieties of coarse rice,
Guard Agriculture Research and Services Private Ltd. (GUARD) has now
focused to develop a hybrid of ‘Basmati’ rice with an average per acre
yield of 80 maunds and average grain length of 8mm and above.

Members of the Agriculture Journalists Association (AJA) and Lahore
Economic Journalists Association (LEJA) visited Guard head office here
on Monday to know the role of hybrid rice varieties in ensuring food
security. SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry Vice President Iftikhar
Ali Malik, LCCI President Syed Almas Hyder, Rice Exporters Association
of Pakistan’s nominated chairman for next year Shahjahan Malik and Pir
Nazim Hussein Shah were also present on this occasion.

Malik said that scientists have been given the task that the variety
they develop should be heat & drought tolerant and salinity resistant.
He said that Guard started working on the development of basmati
hybrid in 2014 and after six years of industrious research is near its
target.

Established in 1989, Guard is involved in basic as well as applied
research for the development of hybrid rice varieties in collaboration
with Longping High-Tech Industries and have achieved full technology
transfer in the field of hybrid rice with a feather, of being market a
leader in hybrid rice seed, in its cap, he said

Guard commercialized Super Basmati in 1991, which was eventually
approved by Government in 1997 for commercial cultivation after 40 per
cent of Punjab area came under its cultivation. The Company so far has
developed 08 different rice hybrids for general cultivation in
Pakistan with first Seed Company developing such a big number of
hybrids and starting local hybrid seed production.

He said that since the introduction of hybrid rice in Sindh, the
income of rice farmers has doubled due to the double yield of hybrid
rice as compared to IRRI varieties. Due to early maturing hybrid rice
crop, timely sowing of Rabi crops is ensured. Timely sown Rabi crops
give positive and significantly increase in per-unit production / per
acre yield which consequently increases farmer income. Due to shorter
maturity period, hybrid rice crop can be planted in late season.

He said need to bring new hybrid rice is that yield of existing rice
varieties is low and stagnant. The low rice yields do not match with
the increasing cost of inputs and because of increasing cost, Pakistan
is becoming uncompetitive in the international market. Declining land
resources and water shortage are other reasons which can only be
solved by the adoption of hybrid rice.

Shahzad said that they were also introducing combine harvesters, rice
transplanters and other implements to promote mechanization in this
field and these will be introduced to farmers on rental basis. He
lamented that our public institutes could not introduce any new
variety since 1960.

To a question, he said to encash upon the opportunities exist in Iran,
which is the second biggest market of Basmati rice after Saudi Arabia,
Pakistan needs to protect the rice exporters. He said as we do not
have any cash swap treaty with Iran, exporters have proposed barter
trade with Iran. He hoped that soon Pakistan will have a barter
agreement with Iran of importing LPG against Pakistani rice.

Chairman GUARD Group Iftikhar Ali Malik speaking on this occasion said
that efforts of his company had ensured over 100 per cent increase in
production of rice in Sindh and hoped that research in Punjab would
yield the same results. He said that we need more yield due to
increasing mouths to feed, consuming fewer resources for more
production to ensure a positive environmental impact.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) President Syed Almas
Hyder appreciated the efforts being carried out by the Group and said
that no other public or private group was doing the same. He said our
industries are also dependent on agriculture and they perform well
when agriculture performs well.

 

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