LAHORE: Sub-committee of the provincial seed committee on rice has recommended the government to allot state land on a long-term lease basis at concessional rates to genuine seed producers who met set criteria and have a successful track record in research and seed production especially hybrid seed.

“The Punjab government has already planned such a scheme for Corporate Farming,” according to the recommendations presented to the Governor Punjab Baligh-ur-Rehman by the rice sub-committee convener and Chairman of Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA) Shahzad Ali Malik in a recent meeting of the committee.

The sub-committee had submitted a set of eight recommendations to governor Punjab for the promotion of hi-tech hybrid seeds to boost agricultural production in the country.

The committee also sought amendment in Seed Rules 2016 under the heading of Seed Production/import targets to achieve its very purpose to compel the importers to gradually shift from imports to local seed production for national and multinational seed companies which don’t invest in local R&D, technology transfer and local seed production until restrained through compliance of the above said rules.

It was also recommended that interest-free loans be advanced to seed producers for R&D and for seed production locally and a cash incentive of Rs 50 million also be announced for such researchers and breeders of both public/private sectors whose variety becomes commercially successful on the basis of at least 10 percent increase in sale and production for 3 years.

The committee further sought amendments in seed approval and regulatory framework to ensure representation to PHHSA and REAP in the National Seed Council Punjab, Seed Business Rules Committee, Federal Seed Committee, Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) and VEC sub-committee of Federal Seed Certification and Registration department.

Shahzad Ali Malik, a pioneer of hi-tech hybrid rice seed in Pakistan was of the view that the existing criteria of seed variety evaluation must be revised which should consider only one factor of “yield” while evaluating national/provincial field trials with a focus on distinctive characters like disease resistance and logging etc. It was also recommended that the number of government labs for quality tests of varieties and hybrids is increased from one to at least three at the national and provincial levels.

The committee also recommended that to achieve the high-quality standards of locally produced seeds and collaborate with foreign partners for investment, transfer of technology or to become eligible to export seed, it is mandatory for Pakistan to join a membership of organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD) scheme for the varietal certification of seed established in 1958 and federal ministry of food security may be approached to realise the dream.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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