Agricultural experts and scientists have termed the adoption of modern technology vital to improve productivity, saying Pakistan desperately needs innovation like biotechnology to address challenges faced by farmers.
Speaking at a seminar organised by Maize and Millets Research Institute (MMRI), the experts pointed out that after the introduction of hybrid maize seeds during the 90s, farmers gradually shifted to this crop from traditional and open pollinated varieties (OPVs) as hybrid maize boosted production from a mere 30 maunds per acre to 80-120 maunds.
Production could be increased further by using heat-tolerant, disease-free and genetically-modified (insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant) varieties as well as improving farming practices, which would also help reduce the costs, they suggested.
Calling maize ‘an opportunity for all’, Ayub Agriculture Research Institute Director Dr Abid Mehmood said maize was a profitable crop for farmers and if Pakistan succeeded in increasing its production further, maize-based industry would grow, which in turn would create employment opportunities.
Maize, the third biggest food crop of Pakistan after wheat and rice, is also a major crop in many countries because of its multiple uses and high yield compared to other crops.
In Pakistan, maize is planted over an area of one million hectares with annual production of around 3.5 million tons and productivity of 3,670 kg per hectare. According to the experts, more than half of the corn is used as raw material for poultry feed, one-fourth for industrial starch and the rest for human consumption and fodder for livestock.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2012.