Monday, June 17, 2024

Seed Giant: Pak-China Hybrid Rice Collaboration to Safeguard Food Security

“Up to now, our stable annual supply of fine varieties has exceeded 4,000 tons in Pakistan, accounting for more than 40 percent of local hybrid rice seed market,” said Chu Linfeng, Deputy General Manager of the Anhui Winall Hi-Tech Seed Co., Ltd., burst with pride. The annual early-maturing rice planting season is just a month away in the South Asian country.

Lately, the latest batch of 200 tons of hybrid rice seeds was on its way to Pakistan. Since entering the Pakistani hybrid rice seed market in 2007, the company in Anhui Province has always put high-yielding, high-temperature-resistant and stress-resistant hybrid rice varieties as the top priority for promotion, Chu told the reporter. “Besides high temperatures, drought, salinity, pests and diseases, none of these obstacles can prevent hybrid rice from thriving here. In general, we always arrange the shipment of seeds in advance. From November last year to April this year, our seeds have been dispatched in time as planned.”

In order to adapt to the local climate as well as keep the yield stable, China and Pakistan practitioners have carried out in-depth cooperation, so as to overcome breeding challenge. “Rainfall in Pakistan is concentrated in July-September, and the country has a very large area receives an annual rainfall of less than 150 mm. Thus, the local demands for high temperature and drought tolerance of rice varieties are urgent. As the impact of global climate change becomes increasingly severe, pests and diseases caused by unstable climate also pose great challenges to agriculture. We have carried out long-term testing and screening of improved varieties, and provided supporting technology training for partners, causing satisfactory results,” Chu added.

Abdul Rasheed, the Chief Research and Development Officer in Guard Agriculture Research and Services, indicated that rice generally matures between 30 to 40 degree Celsius, but with the hybrid technology it could even bear 40 to 50 degree Celsius. It consumes less water that reduces the overall cost making it cost effective as well.

Moreover, it matures in 95 to 100 days while the ordinary rice takes around 120 days and due to shorter maturity period hybrid rice crop “consumes less irrigation as compared to traditional rice varieties,” Rasheed added.

It is learned that the main cultivation area of Winall hybrid rice is located in Sindh province, as well as a small amount in Punjab province. What is nice is the yield per mu is generally 650 to 800 kg (9750 to 12000 kg per hectare). “In 2021, we exported more than 4,500 tons of hybrid rice seeds to Pakistan, and the highest-yielding variety increase the yield by about 30 percent compared with local varieties,” emphasized Jiang Sanqiao, Vice GM of Winall Group.

Teaching one to fish is better than giving him fish. Since 2019, Winall and Huazhong Agricultural University of China have jointly established the International Cooperation Class, training agricultural talents in Pakistan and other countries for three consecutive years, and expanding the blueprint for agricultural cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. “In addition, through the collection, identification and application of overseas germplasm resources, we are committed to developing more high-yielding varieties, which means that there is great potential for agricultural cooperation along the BRI.”

Hybrid rice, which has helped Pakistan improve food security, get rid of poverty and even earn foreign exchange, won wide acclaim. According to the Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce, rice is the largest agro export commodity in the export basket of the country with a total export of over USD 2 bln annually.

“Next, we will carry out more in-depth agricultural cooperation in all aspects. Last August, Anhui Province and Pakistan have jointly established the Agricultural International Cooperation Alliance to promote agricultural enterprises in various fields in Anhui Province to conduct business in Pakistan,” noted Chu.

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