NARC’s maize team receiving a certificate of appreciation from AIP. Photo: M. Waheed Anwar/CIMMYT
ISLAMABAD — CIMMYT’s Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) held its annual maize working group meeting on 10-11 May with over 20 representatives from public and private seed companies and higher learning institutions in attendance. The working group evaluated AIP partners’ progress in deploying CIMMYT-derived maize hybrids and varieties to farmers.
Maize productivity in Pakistan has increased almost 75 percent since the early 1990s thanks to the adoption and expansion of hybrid maize varieties. However, the seed that spurred this growth is largely imported at an annual cost of $50 million. Since AIP’s launch in 2013, however, more than 80 CIMMYT-derived maize hybrids and open-pollinated varieties have been adapted to Pakistan’s diverse ecologies. Currently, 21 public- and private-sector companies are testing and deploying these locally-adapted cultivars to smallholder farmers across the country.
In his opening statement, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Nadeem Amjad cited AIP as the best example of sustainable development projects and said that one of its invaluable contributions is “sharing of valuable parental lines and breeder seeds.” He added that CIMMYT hybrids can help “resource-poor maize farmers have affordable maize seeds at their doorstep.”
Participants in AIP’s annual maize working group meeting, 10-11 May 2016, Islamabad, Pakistan. Photo: Amina Nasim Khan/CIMMYT
At the meeting, partners reported on their progress producing parental seed and described how they planned to deliver quality seeds to farmers. They also identified key challenges in Pakistan’s maize seed value chain and recommended potential solutions during the group discussion.
In his concluding remarks, Pakistan’s National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) Director General Muhammad Azeem Khan said that it was only thanks to AIP innovations and interventions that NARC was able to start producing seed of biofortified hybrid maize, a first in the history of Pakistan.
Certificates of appreciation were presented by AIP to NARC for jump-starting hybrid seed production in Pakistan and hosting various national maize events in 2015, as well as to Tara Crop Sciences (Pvt.) Ltd. for conducting the best maize trials evaluated by AIP maize partners during the 2015 traveling maize seminar.