ISLAMABAD: A high-level delegation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) met Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (Parc) Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad here on Tuesday and discussed possibilities for developing new varieties of basmati rice which are resistant to bacterial leaf blight (BLB) and tolerant to flooding. The delegation was headed by ADB Adviser and Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development Practice Leader Lourdes Adriano.
While speaking on the occasion, Ahmad said that the visit of the ADB mission is a prerequisite to evolving an effective policy on the issue. He said the visit will provide an opportunity for consultations between policymakers of federal and provincial government agencies, scientists of research organisations, and other stakeholders; including basmati rice growers, millers, exporters, input providers.
National Agricultural Research Centre Director General Dr Muhammad Sharif said that rice growers generally face the problem of labour shortages, especially at the time of transplanting crops, which results in low plant population, which is one of the major factors behind low rice productivity.
“Research and development activities, in collaboration with provincial research organisations, to develop resource conservation technologies like, direct dry seeding, bed planting of rice, alternative wetting and drying, mechanical transplanting and parachute planting have been initiated to address these issues,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Adriano apprised participants of the objectives of the mission and identified key challenges and opportunities for the value chain development for basmati rice in Punjab.
He further said that innovative technologies that are resistant to bacterial blight and tolerant to flooding pre- and post-harvest will be introduced to improve the rice productivity and livelihood of the small farmers.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2013.
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