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LAHORE: Stakeholders have suggested setting up a separate ministry to work for exploring more potent seeds from around the world or develop locally with more per acre yield, resistance to different diseases and climate change with collaborative efforts of the public-private sector to ensure food security.

“There is a hue and cry for ensuring food security but unfortunately we cannot develop any new seed since last 70 years with a quantum jump in the production while the bedrock of a thriving agriculture sector is a good quality seed,” said Convener Sub-Committee of the Provincial Committee on Seed, Engr. Jawed Salim Qureshi while talking to Business Recorder here on Wednesday.

He said around 31 million acres of land in our country is crop-based and wheat is sown over 21-22 million acres out of this total land.

We have water and good land but we do not have good seeds, which determine more than any other element what results from a crop can achieve.

Seed security refers to the availability, accessibility, and affordability of high-quality seeds for agricultural production. This includes not just the physical seed itself but also the knowledge and resources necessary to produce, store, and distribute it.

The loss of seed diversity, as well as the prevalence of low-quality, low-yielding seeds, can lead to lower crop yields, decreased nutrition, and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases.

He said the Chinese were getting 70 maunds of wheat per acre from the canal-fed area while we were getting around 32 maunds per acre from canal fed and 15-18 maunds from rain-fed areas. Our national average comes to 28-29 maunds per acre, he added.

Engr. Jawed Salim Qureshi was entrusted with the task of compiling recommendations for promoting agriculture in Punjab by the Governor Punjab was of the view that the Government must set up a ministry called ‘Seed Security’ on the pattern of the Ministry of Food Security & Research which should look for seeds of every crop around the world having more production then what we are getting in Pakistan.

‘If we can succeed in taking our wheat production from 32 maunds per acre to 40 maunds per acre; it helps us saves billion of dollars while it also gives us additional 31 million metric tons of wheat which are our required grain.

We can also save some land for plantation of oilseed which were now a day fetching Rs 800 per maund thus what saving what we spend on import of edible oil from abroad,’ he claimed.

He said his company has introduced a new variety of oilseed which is giving 25 maunds per acre while having the potential to touch 30 maunds per acre. Coming to his point, he said that government either should bring the best seeds from around the world itself or ask the big companies to bring such seeds.

A delegation should be sent across the globe should analyze the best seeds and bring those seeds and technology to Pakistan. He cited the example of turnaround given by the imported hybrid maize and rice seeds.

Engr. Jawed Salim Qureshi said we should focus on agriculture and it could bring a turnaround in our economy in two years’ time. He said that the government should not over-regulate the agricultural sector, and introduce GMOs which have the potential to give double the yield that we are getting right now. He said Pakistan’s economy could not be improved without giving attention to agriculture.

“As trials of new seed varieties are conducted by the federal agencies and provincial authorities rely on data generated by them, representatives of the provincial government should have in the Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) to avoid duplicate process at provincial level.

While provincial governments should also generate data of new seeds and there should be a review meeting after every crop so as to give permanent permission for commercial sowing of any seed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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P l Apr 13, 2023 09:12am
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