Farmers in the farthest reaches of Pakistan need access to white- grained maize, according to Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad, chairman of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC). “There is a good progress in the productivity of yellow maize varieties in the areas of Punjab and KPK provinces,” Ahmad said, “but we need white maize varieties to reach farmers in the marginal areas of KPK, Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan provinces.”
From left to right: Shahid Masood, Md. Imtiaz, Iftikhar Ahmad and AbduRahman Beshir.
Speaking at the first National Maize Workshop-Annual Progress Review of Pakistan, held in Islamabad during 19-20 November, Ahmad also mentioned the importance of public-private partnerships to reduce the cost to farmers of hybrid seed, which is more expensive in Pakistan than elsewhere in South Asia.
There is good progress in the productivity of yellow maize varieties in the areas of Punjab and KPK provinces, but we need white maize varieties to reach farmers in the marginal areas of KPK, Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan provinces.” –Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad Chairman of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC).
Dr. Beshir explains the traits of yellow maize at NARC, Islamabad.
Jointly organized by PARC and CIMMYT, the workshop was an activity of the Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) for Pakistan and its 50 participants represented public and private maize research and development institutions, local and multinational seed companies, higher learning institutions, and departments of extension and food processors from all provinces of Pakistan.
Dr. Md. Imtiaz, project leader of AIP, highlighted the role of CIMMYT in enhancing local capacity and requested the full collaboration of national institutions.
During the concluding session, Dr. Shahid Masood, Member of Plant Science and AIP focal person at PARC, mentioned the importance of deploying biofortified and specialty maize, providing farmers with agronomy training, diversifying maize uses and developing and deploying dual purpose maize for food and feed.
Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad, PARC Chairman, addresses participants.
The workshop was followed by a field visit to the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC), where participants saw the performance of AIP-maize varieties and lines from CIMMYT breeding programs in Colombia, Mexico and Zimbabwe.
AbduRahman Beshir, CIMMYT maize improvement and seed systems specialists, said the event helped to define shared objectives for AIP-maize partners and a common goal to work towards and helped CIMMYT to reactivate maize research and development activities in Pakistan. Finally, partners discussed “seed road maps” that describe and illustrate varietal release pathways and seed production targets.