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KARACHI: Pakistan is preparing for a record-breaking wheat harvest of around 15 million metric tons of biofortified, zinc-enriched wheat for the 2024 season. This surge in production is attributed to farmers predominantly choosing to cultivate the biofortified wheat variety Akbar 2019. Known for its nutritional value, disease resistance, and higher yield potential, Akbar 2019 has become widely adopted across the nation’s wheat fields.

Approximately 42 percent of Pakistan’s wheat cropping area was dedicated to Akbar 2019 during the 2023-24 season, covering about 3.78 million hectares and expecting a yield of nearly 15 million metric tons. This success is credited to a decade-long partnership with HarvestPlus, as highlighted by Javed Ahmad, Director at the Wheat Research Institute in Faisalabad.

The emergence of Akbar 2019, a wheat variety famous for its high zinc content, marks a significant turning point in Punjab’s agricultural landscape. This innovation has become the most popular wheat choice, highlighting the success of collaborative efforts in promoting its widespread adoption.

Traders seal 12 deals for import of 0.7m MTs of wheat

Akbar 2019’s journey began with the identification of its nutritional potential through micronutrient testing programmes and strategic investments in early-generation seed production by HarvestPlus.

A crucial partnership with the Wheat Research Institute in Faisalabad played a key role in its development and subsequent large-scale cultivation.

“The official release of Akbar 2019 in 2019 marked a new era for zinc wheat in Pakistan. A widely attended launch event, coupled with collaboration with seed companies and farmers, facilitated widespread adoption of this variety with significant nutritional potential,” Ahmed maintained.

“Building capacity for the production and distribution of certified zinc-enriched seeds was crucial for ensuring the sustained success of Akbar 2019,” said Yaqub Mujahid, Country Manager at HarvestPlus Pakistan, adding that over 120 seed companies partnered to guarantee access to these seeds, even in the face of challenges like the 2022 floods.

Notably, over 90,000 tons of certified Akbar 2019 seeds were planted in the 2023-24 season, showcasing the growing demand for this nutritionally superior wheat variety. The farmer saved seed was in addition to this, Mujahid added.

Partnerships with value chain actors and digital media campaigns played a vital role in reaching millions of farmers and rural communities. These initiatives, along with journalist training programmes, value chain seminars, and farmer field days, further amplified the impact and fostered awareness of the nutritional potential of Akbar 2019, he added.

The collaborative efforts of research institutions and advocacy efforts played a crucial role in integrating biofortified wheat varieties like Akbar 2019 into Punjab’s agricultural plans and seed subsidy programme. This inclusion signifies the recognition of the nutritional value, diseases resistance, and climate resilience, this variety offers.

Akbar 2019’s rapid ascent signifies the effectiveness of collaborative programmes in accelerating the adoption of nutritionally superior crops at the farmer level. As future replacements are developed with even greater nutritional potential, continued efforts are vital to promote even more nutritious crops and build a more resilient agricultural future of Pakistan.

“This story exemplifies how collaboration, innovation, and advocacy can reshape wheat cultivation, address nutritional deficiencies by offering nutritious crop varieties, and enhance agricultural sustainability, ultimately nourishing communities across Pakistan,” the expert added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Comments

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KU Apr 14, 2024 10:15am
What a farce. Has anyone looked at data that shows how much Akbar 19 seeds was produced and sold? Meanwhile, farmers are being ripped off at Rs. 3200 per 40kg instead of official price at Rs.3900.
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Usman Apr 14, 2024 11:46am
@KU, what proof do you have to call it a farce.Come woth proof .these are not pti jalsas that you can blame anyone and walk away.proof or we value your comment as zero.
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KU Apr 14, 2024 12:00pm
The govt is holding its ace cards ready to use, in fear of its lies being exposed after claims of bumper wheat yields. These are, a)climate change effect, b)disease attack, c)low rains and much more.
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Usaid Haroon Apr 14, 2024 01:59pm
It was a pre-communicated response by Iran post embassy attack for their face saving, nothing to do with Palestine. Palestine issue has been there for 6 months. Doesn't look like an escalation, except that Biden and Natanyahu would like to steer it for their upcoming elections.
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KU Apr 14, 2024 02:20pm
@Usman, Read agri-biology, it will help. Wheat variety cannot produce protein, zinc on its own, it needs NPK, zinc, etc fertilizer applications to get the required nutrition. Its farce without data.
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Usaid Apr 14, 2024 03:10pm
@Maqbool, nothing related to Palestine, it was a friendly match
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