Long Chunjiu (L), chief scientist of Longping South Asia Seed Research and Development Ltd, and research manager Wasim Waheed work at a rice field in Lahore of Punjab province in Pakistan, on July 10, 2019. A project was started here in 2014 and has been carried out by Guard Agriculture Research and Services in collaboration with Chinese Yuan Longping High Tech Agriculture Company. In the project, they sow around 15,000 varieties of rice for research purpose whose data was used to select the best five types for the national trial. The project enabled Pakistan to develop the hybrid rice seeds which is the core part in the production. (Xinhua/Jiang Chao)
by Ali Jaswal
ISLAMABAD, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Enjoying a much greater amount of rice yield is not the only reason for Pakistan's young agrarian Wasim Waheed's satisfaction, but achieving exemplary excellence in its research and development by using modern technology is also making him happy and proud.
The 24-year-old agrarian, who is working as a research manager at a rice farmhouse in Lahore of Pakistan's eastern Punjab province, is learning how to double the crop production by using the Chinese hybrid rice technology.
"On average we have cultivated more than 4 tons per acre rice using the hybrid technology while the traditional species yield just 2 tons per acre," said Wasim, a graduate of agronomy from the Agriculture University of Faisalabad, a leading Pakistani university in the field of agronomy.
He said that they sow around 15,000 varieties of rice for research purpose whose data was used to select the best five types for the national trial, supervised by the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department.
Wasim is quite hopeful that three varieties would be approved this year. "One has already been allowed to market earlier this year."
The project was started in 2014 and has been carried out by Guard Agriculture Research and Services in collaboration with Yuan Longping High Tech Agriculture Company. Yuan Longping Tech has been named after Chinese agronomist Yuan Longping, globally renowned as the father of hybrid rice, who founded hybrid rice varieties almost five decades ago.
The hybrid rice which is bred from two totally different parents could potentially yield other varieties as well with the help of hybrid vigor.
The hybrid rice has various advantages. It can grow in stress areas like saline, drought and water-logging as compared to inbred varieties.
Talking to Xinhua, Abdul Rasheed, the chief research and development officer in Guard Agriculture Research and Services, said 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.
On the top of everything, the increased yield has almost doubled the income of farmers, which has provided them a great sense of relief.
However, providing necessary skills and training to locals had been a tough job. As it required technical knowledge as well as the application method. Long Chunjiu, chief scientist of Longping South Asia Seed Research and Development Ltd, said that to transfer the knowledge, he not only spent time with five students teaching them hand by hand, but also teaches more than 100 others in another class.
The project enabled Pakistan to develop the hybrid rice seeds which is the core part in the production. "Its like we are sharing a Central Processing Unit (CPU) technology for a digital product which is the highest value part," Long said. In May last year, with the help of Long's team, Pakistan exported around 100 tons of hybrid rice seeds to the Philippines.
Along with the human resource generation, the project also raised the prospects for agricultural entrepreneurs. Sharing his experience, Long, who came to Pakistan 10 years ago, said that "when we first started, one of the rural landholders we worked with could only make a living by selling pesticides and fertilizers."
After learning hybrid rice planting and breeding technology, he now owns a large rice factory and drives a good car, and lives a good life. Many of the farmers who worked in his farm also raised their incomes, bought motorcycles.
The benefits are not limited to the farmers and the land owners, but in fact has trickled down across all levels. Samreen Nazir, an 18-years-old girl who has just completed her high school, is a worker in this farm. She found the scientific management of plantation is very interesting and productive in terms of learning.
Expressing her thoughts to Xinhua, she said that the "introduction of the modern Chinese planting management has literally opened up new opportunities for girls like her." Samreen has been working in the field for the last two to three years and considers the job not difficult for females at all.
She experienced the process of seeding to be easy while harvesting as a tough job especially when the weather conditions get hostile.
Nevertheless, the most important thing that Samreen got from the job is the vision and determination. "This project has enabled new opportunities for the younger generations" especially for the under-privileged classes living in the villages.
Now Samreen strongly believes that she has learnt the modern plantation skill. "I am thinking towards involving in the hybrid rice farming business in the future as I have some know-how about it" and the technology will multiplies the yield making business attractive and tempting.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is determined to enhance the country's exports especially in agriculture. 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 2 billion U.S. dollars annually.
The access to the Chinese market is one of the main factor that helped the government achieve 2.1 billion dollars in the 2018-19 fiscal year. As per the commerce ministry, "the government has the vision to take rice exports to 5 billion U.S. dollars in the next five years."