FAISALABAD: The ground is set to involve private sector in production of high-yield and disease-resistant seeds of different crops in the country under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 2016.
Ayub Agriculture Research Institute (AARI) Director General Abid Mahmood informed that 26 private seed companies have qualified for bidding to produce four seed varieties of three different crops evolved by AARI scientists.
After the completion of the prequalification process, the bidding is now scheduled to be held on January 15, 2019, he added.
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Quoting details, Mahmood informed that Pakistan imported seeds of different value-added crops to the tune of billions of rupees to meet the needs of the domestic market
"This is actually a stigma for an agrarian country, which was once considered a food basket of the sub-continent," he voiced concern.
The director disclosed that AARI had developed a new and much-awaited variety of BT cotton, one variety of tomato and two varieties of maize, which are disease-resistant, high yielding and compatible to the country's climatic conditions.
He appreciated the fact that the said varieties were declared successful in field trials and hence Punjab Seed Council approved these varieties for mass cultivation.
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"AARI has decided to auction the production of seeds of these crops in collaboration with the private sector," he shared. "The successful company, out of the 26 companies, will be responsible to produce and market seeds of these crops."
He continued that the seed developer will be liable for a royalty also.
He lauded that these seeds, which the country imported for billions of rupees, would now be available within the country.
Terming the initiative a major step towards import substitution, the director claimed it would aid Pakistan in bridging the gap between imports and exports.