FAISALABAD - Heat-tolerant and insect-resilient maize can alleviate hunger and help achieve food security in third world countries.

This was stated by speakers at an international conference on maize production arranged by the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics (PBG), University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) on Saturday.

UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said the country had made tremendous development in maize produce. He said that before the green revolution, maize flour was used by people as it was economical as compared to wheat. In the modern era, technology is needed to make roti from maize to market it to address the issue of hunger, he added. He said that agriculture production could be boosted up by adopting heat-tolerant and insect-resistant varieties.

Improved farming practices would also help reduce production costs, he added. CIMMYT country representative Dr Muhammad Imtiaz said Pakistan could earn huge foreign exchange from maize. China is the world’s second-largest consumer of maize.

 In 2012-13, maize production in Pakistan witnessed a 15 percent increase, he added. Faculty of Agriculture Dean Prof Dr Muhammad Arshad said that maize was a key player in food security. He said that amid climate change, short duration crops would help the country meet food demands of the increasing population.

He said after wheat and rice, maize was the third biggest food crop and it was also a major crop in many countries because of its multiple uses and high yield. He said demand of cereal was increasing and maize could become most important cereal in developing countries by 2020.

PBG Chairman Prof Dr Abdus Salam said that quality seeds were important owing to changing weather patterns. It will help fight harsh weather conditions, he added.

Office of Research Innovation and Commercialization Director Prof Dr Asif Ali said maize was a profitable crop. If the country succeeded in enhancing its production, the maize-based industry would grow and ultimately create employment opportunities.Dr Muhammad Aslam also spoke.