USAID-funded Agricultural Innovation Program together with the PARC work on new affordable climate-resilient and nutrient-enriched maize
ISLAMABAD – The National Maize Workshop in Islamabad was opened by the Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan and the Deputy Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Julie Chen.
The workshop showcases the progress of new maize seed varieties that were given by the USAID-funded Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) last year to 20 Pakistani research organizations and Pakistani seed companies at the National Agricultural Research Center. These new seed varieties jump started quality hybrid maize seed production here in Pakistan.
The USAID-funded AIP has been working together with the Pakistan Agriculture Research Center (PARC) to identify 50 hybrids and open pollinated maize varieties that are suitable for Pakistan’s ecology. These varieties are bred to resist drought and heat and have enhanced nutrition (more protein, pro-vitamin A, and zinc). These varieties deliver increased productivity and nutrients for both farmers and consumers.
This workshop celebrates both the yearlong progress of these seeds and recognizes U.S.-Pakistan cooperation dating back to the 1960s, when a team of American and Pakistani scientists, introduced the Mexi-Pak wheat variety in Pakistan. Between 1961 and 1969, wheat production in Pakistan increased by 25 percent.
Speaking at the occasion, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, the Minister for National Food Security and Research thanked the United States for sharing the latest technology and research with Pakistani farmers and hoped that Pakistani organizations will take these seeds and make sure they are available to farmers at their local input supply store.
USAID Deputy Mission Director Julie Chen remarked that, “With these new maize varieties we have more available, accessible, and affordable climate-resilient and nutrient-enriched maize for local seed companies and public research institutions. The handover of new maize varieties last year was a small part of how America supports agriculture in Pakistan. The potential in these seeds will go a long way to improve the lives of millions of Pakistani farmers.”
Launched in 2013, AIP is an initiative of USAID, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, and the Pakistan Agriculture Research Center and works to increase agricultural productivity and incomes through the promotion and dissemination of modern technology for wheat, maize, rice, livestock, fruits, and vegetables.