Why: Maize is Pakistan’s third most important cereal following wheat and rice, producing one of the highest average grain yields in South Asia. The staple food is a major food source in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and the territories of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, areas experiencing some of the highest rates of child malnutrition.
In January 2017, Pakistan’s maize variety evaluation committee approved QPHM200 and QPHM300, two QPM hybrids, for large-scale cultivation in Pakistan. Developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Colombia and evaluated and selected in Pakistan by the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC), these QPM hybrids can potentially yield up to 15 tons per hectare (ha) – over three times the national average – and can be provided to farmers for less than half the price of currently imported hybrid seeds.
When: April 11 to 13, 2017
Where: NARC CSI Complex, Park Road, Islamabad, Pakistan
QPM discussion highlights:
QPM was recently introduced to Pakistan through the CIMMYT-led AIP in collaboration with national partners with support from USAID. The commercialization of the two QPM hybrids was aimed at boosting nutrition by alleviating protein deficiency, particularly for low income communities where affording protein rich diets is difficult.
What is the impact so far? What’s next for QPM in Pakistan?
Normal maize is deficient in essential amino acids lysine and tryptophan, key protein building blocks that can’t be synthesized by the human body and must be acquired from food sources. As a result, when human diets are comprised mainly of maize, consumers face a risk of malnutrition, particularly those with high protein requirements like young children, pregnant or lactating women. Conventionally bred QPM grain, which has been shown to improve nutritional status, has enhanced levels of lysine and tryptophan while the kernels have a favorable texture and flavor.
“With these new maize varieties we have more available, accessible and affordable climate-resilient and nutrient-enriched maize for local seed companies and public research institutions,” said USAID Deputy Mission Director Julie Chen. In her address Chen cited U.S.-Pakistan cooperation in the field that contributed to wheat productivity in the 1960s, which led Pakistan to be self-sufficient in wheat production.
During the three day workshop a total of 48 speakers delivered their presentations on various topics related to maize breeding and genetics, quality seed production, maize agronomy and extension, maize utilization and policy and others. Maize farmers from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, as well as from the Azad Jammu and Kashmir territories shared their experiences, indicating the diverse interests and priorities of maize farmers in their respective areas. Over 20 public and private institutions who are currently working under the AIP-maize network shared their annual progress.