Majority of farmers avoid using improved seeds in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Despite government’s tall claims about increase in per acre agriculture production, above 80 percent of growers’ are not using improved certified seeds in the country, official sources said here Thursday.
The distribution of improved seed for different agricultural produce has never exceeded 20 percent of the total seed requirement at the national level. There was an urgent need for using the improved and technology based seeds for increasing per acre agriculture produce.
On several occasions the president and prime minister have underlined the need for optimum utilization of research and technology and urged the agricultural scientists to help the farmers achieve a quantum jump in per acre yield of crops to improve agriculture sector and alleviate poverty. But the fact is that no such efforts were made on part of the government to increase agriculture production, a farmer told Daily Times by phone.
Owing to the lack of resources, the small farmer did not use the certified seed and the latest technology in Pakistan and the wheat per-acre production remained lower than many nations in Pakistan, he maintained.
“Per acre wheat production is 3,120 kilograms in Ireland, 2,920 kgs in Israel, 2,880 kgs in Egypt, 2,720 kgs in Mexico, 2,240 kgs in China, 2,040 kgs in South India, and 960 kgs in Pakistan,” an official said adding that Pakistan is on the lowest number from several agrarian economies.
“Many developed and under-developed countries have two or three times more wheat per-acre production in comparison with Pakistan. The country needs to be self-reliant in wheat production which can be possible with the usage of latest technology and certified improved seeds,” the official maintained.
Another official in the ministry of food, agriculture and livestock (MINFAL) said Pakistani farmers currently sow Irri-6 rice variety over 94.5 percent of the area. Currently, hybrid rice seed variety is cultivated on around 5.5 percent area. The IRRI-6 variety was imported in 1960 from International Rice Research Institute Philippines. Its per acre yield has stagnated at 50-60 maund per acre for more than four decades.
Internationally this variety had been replaced by hybrid rice seed varieties. China, being the pioneer in this technology produces the highest yield hybrid rice. The per acre yield from this variety ranges from 100-130 maund that was almost double the production obtained from traditional IRRI-6 variety.
Pakistan produces two rice varieties — the long grain super basmati grown in central Punjab and coarse grain IRRI variety cultivated in southern part of the country. About 60 percent of the super variety is consumed locally and rest is exported at very high rates. The IRRI variety is mainly cultivated for export purposes. Pakistan could almost double its IRRI variety exports if it shifts to high yielding hybrid variety.
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