Last year’s maize-growing season in Pakistan yielded a record-breaking six-million tons, decreasing the country’s dependence on imported maize seed and boosting local sales and exports of maize-based products.Officials and growers attribute this surge in yields extensive use of inputs such as fertilizer, high-yielding improved maize hybrid new varieties and collaborative programs that focus on targeting maize seed improvement to the local environment.
One such program is the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) -led and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) -funded Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) for Pakistan.
During the recently held 5th Annual maize working group meeting, partners representing 25 public and private institutions discussed what can be done following efforts to consolidate and sustain innovative interventions by AIP. Approximately 50 Participants from Pakistan attended this two-day meeting, where participants shared progress on their respective maize activities, updates on the status of seed production and product identification under AIP, and future prospects.
In a thematic group discussion, participants helped to identify gaps, recognize the role of stakeholders, and develop doable recommendations across the value chain.
Yusuf Zafar, chairman of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), said he appreciated the contributions of CIMMYT and USAID to Pakistan’s maize sector. “The collaboration and partnership of the public and private sectors under AIP is an exemplary one. We will continue supporting the continuation of this platform with all available means and resources” said Zafar while ensuring PARC’s commitment to this initiative after the completion of the project.
While presenting the annual review, Muhammad Imtiaz, CIMMYT Country Representative for Pakistan discussed the status of the project. AIP will continue under a no-cost extension until 2019 and the project is looking for assistance from the private sector in order to continue into the future.
In closing, Anjum Ali, Member Plant Sciences Division, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, PARC, acknowledged the effort of CIMMYT in bringing all the stakeholders of maize including academia, public and private R&D institutions, policymakers under one umbrella. He further added, “PARC will channel all the deliberations from this meeting and will work with relevant government bodies to come up with amicable solutions for the problems faced by the private sector in products testing and marketing.” The timely and doable recommendations of the working group will serve as a working document for the government in the future, Ali added.
The Agricultural Innovation Program’s mission to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes in Pakistan is supported by the United States Agency for International Development. Partners who have been key in this effort include the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, the International Livestock Research Institute, the University of California – Davis, the World Vegetable Center and the International Rice Research Institute. It has been under no-cost extension since the program ended in March 2017, which extends the program until 2019.