Shahzad Malik for swiftly working for developing Basmati Hybrid

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Expressing grave concern over increasing popularity of non-basmati hybrid rice sowing in Punjab, Chairman Rice Research & Development Board Punjab Shahzad Ali Malik has urged the scientists to work swiftly to develop Basmati hybrid rice giving more per acre yield for prosperity of the growers and saving heritage of the province. ‘Being head of a seed company which has the honour of introducing non-basmati hybrid rice in the country, I should favour non-basmati hybrid rice even in the core basmati areas of Punjab. But at the same time I am a strong supporter of saving our Basmati, our heritage and asset.

Being an exporter of Basmati, we have announced from the platform of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) a reward of Rs 10 million for the breeder or scientists who would develop a high yielding basmati hybrid variety,’ said Shahzad. He was speaking at the annual sales conference of the Guard Agriculture Research & Services, company, pioneer and leading company of non-basmati hybrid seed.

Shahzad is the CEO of the company and said Hybrid was introduced in Sindh because mainly non-basmati or IRRI rice was being produced in that area, which has a produce of 40-50 maund per acre. However, introduction of hybrid rice pushed the production upward and grower started getting 110-120 maunds per acre. Hybrid played a very strong role in poverty alleviation and enhancing non-basmati exports of Pakistan. After Sindh, the hybrid rice was introduced in Southern Punjab but now it is also being sown in core basmati area or Central Punjab. He dubbed it as a matter of concern. It is very beneficial for my personal business but if we talk as a national, it should not replace Basmati. He said his company is also working on developing Basmati hybrid from last seven to eight years and encourage private and public sector scientists to take lead in it.

SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and GUARD Group Chairman Iftikhar Ali Malik threw light on starting of the company and said it has five research stations across the country for developing heat tolerant, drought tolerant and high yielding rice varieties. He was of the view that only strengthening of agricultural sector can benefit a common man in Pakistan. He disclosed that their group was carrying out more research in collaboration with China on different crops after rice.

Earlier, REAP former chairman Shahjahan Malik, Executive Seed Division Momin Malik, Rizwan Younis and various others spoke on the achievements of the company at length at different sessions and also announced to bring in rice specific transplanters and harvesters to the market both on sale and rental basis. They said that rice transplanters can help increasing plant population per acre to 80,000-100,000 from current 40,000 per acres with uniform spacing and optimum plant destiny.

It helps addressing the labour scarcity, increasing yield on average by 15 per cent as compared to conventional farming and increasing profitability of the farmers, they concluded.