ISLAMABAD (Pakistan) – New, high-yield maize varieties have been introduced for commercial use at a gathering of agriculture experts and farmers at National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) in Islamabad.
The new maize variety is rich in minerals and vitamins and can improve maize yield more than ten tons per hectare. It is the “first ever type of maize innovation in Pakistan” says CIMMYT Maize Improvement and Seed System Specialist, Dr. Abdur Rahman Beshir.
The next important step after its introduction is “to make new hybrid seeds accessible to farmers at affordable prices, because if we cannot deliver the hybrid seeds to the local farmers, then the innovation is useless” Dr. Beshir stressed. He suggested that working with national partners is vital to make the seeds available from Skardu to Dadu so that all regions of Pakistan can equally utilize the innovation.
Dr. Abdur Rahman was explaining the benefits of the new seed to the local farmers and landlords during a Maize field day visit. The event was organized by Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP), a joint initiative by International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC). This program aims to improve the livelihoods of farmers and promote economic growth in Pakistan through the development and application of cutting-edge innovations in the agricultural sector.
Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, visited the field Agricultural Innovation Program crop growth along with scientists, researchers, farmers, and representatives from USAID, and PARC. The Minister praised the Program’s efforts to develop and introduce new, high-yield maize varieties for commercial use.
“The new program makes maize seed affordable for small, cash-strapped farmers,” said Dr. Imtiaz Muhammad, Country Representative for CIMMYT. He said the initiative will enhance food crops’ productivity and also ensure food security.
The next important step after its introduction is “to make news hybrid seeds accessible to farmers at affordable prices, because if we cannot deliver the hybrid seeds to the local farmers, then the innovation is useless.” He suggested that working with national partners is vital to make the seeds available from Skardu to Dadu so that all regions of Pakistan can equally utilize the innovation.
Some of the Program’s maize varieties yield more than ten tons per hectare, which is a consistent, considerable advantage over local varieties.”
Locally produced maize will cost less than one third. “The current price of maize per kg is up to US$ 8 which can be brought down to US$ 3 after local production of seeds” Dr. Abdur Rahman informed.
The new maize seeds have been introduced in Pakistan from CIMMYT breeding hubs in Mexico, Colombia, and Zimbabwe. So far, 50 hybrids and open pollinated maize varieties have been found suitable for commercial cultivation. The Agricultural Innovation Program’s maize-related activities are being implemented by 19 public and private partner institutes. The program has tested more than 950 maize hybrids in Pakistan.
Maize is one of the major crops of Pakistan along with wheat, cotton, rice and sugarcane. In Pakistan, maize is now gaining an important position in arming because of its higher yield potential and short growth duration.