Hybrid rice seed to significantly increase yield, exports


The commercialisation of Hybrid Basmati seed, expected to be achieved by 2019-2020, will boost farm income as well as exports, Shahzad Ali Malik, chief executive officer of Guard Agricultural Research and Services (Guard Agri) said.

Talking to a group of journalists, Malik said with the development of high-yielding fine rice seed varieties, Pakistan would finally end stalemate in production of Basmati rice. The development of an ideal hybrid Basmati seed was a cumbersome process.

“It is not a simple job. We have been working on development of Basmati strain with the help of hybridisation for last several years. After going through a tedious task, with the help of Chinese experts, our scientists have arrived at the advance stage of carrying out its trial,” he said.

Malik, who has pioneered the launch of high-yielding coarse varieties of hybrid rice seed in the country, said farmers of fine rice varieties would also be able to earn significantly more income soon with the cultivation of hybrid Basmati rice.

The development and launch of hybrid rice seed of coarse varieties has helped many farmers in Sindh and Balochistan to double the per acre yield as compared to earlier varieties, reduce cost of production, and increase income significantly. At the national level, quantum jump in rice production has resulted in export surpluses, leading to rise in export earnings tremendously.

Local consumption of premium rice has also been on the rise with passage of time. However, it requires jump in Basmati rice production, which has been prime choice of farmers living in north and central Punjab for centuries.

Keeping in view the consumption trend in local and overseas markets, Malik said the intensification of Basmati rice assumes paramount importance. Thus, share of Basmati trade in overall rice export needs to be increased in coming years to spur growth on a sustained pattern.

With the launch of hybrid Basmati strains, he said the competitive edge of Pakistani Basmati exporters would be bolstered by greater exportable surplus, which might lead to add another billion dollars in rice exports in the coming years.

Pakistan has seen a surge in rice exports in recent year, but it still needs to be improved given the immense agrarian base of the country and potential of scientific development in research. With the Chinese assistance, new varieties of rice hybrid seed already resulted in increasing productivity and exports. It is a win-win situation for all stakeholders, ultimately playing a role in building the national economy, the CEO of Guard Agri said.

With the addition of the new hybrid Basmati rice varieties, farmers in Punjab would be able to increase production manifold. The added quantities would definitely increase exports to traditional markets, Malik said.

Coming back to hybrid Basmati seed, Malik said, typically, minimum seven to eight years were required to develop a new seed variety. “We are facing a few challenges in development of hybrid Basmati, which are being addressed with back-crossing by breeders this year.”

The CEO said, “We are hopeful of increasing hybrid Basmati rice yield to 70 to 80 maunds per acre, which is almost double the present average yield.” The new hybrid Basmati variety would be extra-long grain, especially after cooking and non-stickiness.

“We are expecting to retain some aroma in hybrid Basmati seed, although, now it is not one of the primary features of new varieties being developed in other countries. The hybrid Basmati available in world markets nowadays doesn’t have much of aroma, so it is no more a primary characteristic of Basmati rice,” he observed.

It may be noted that after attaining two billion dollar mark in export of rice a few years back, a slump was seen for a couple of years. However, for the last one year, export of rice from Pakistan has picked up.

The country recorded around $2 billion worth of rice exports in the outgoing fiscal year. Rice exports had reached $2 billion for the first time in fiscal year 2015.


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