Islamabad-Deputy Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development, Julie Chen and the Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Tuesday opened the National Maize Workshop. 

The workshop showcases the progress of new maize seed varieties that were given by the USAID-funded ‘Agricultural Innovation Program’ last year to 20 Pakistani research organizations and Pakistani seed companies at the National Agricultural Research Centre. These new seed varieties jump started quality hybrid maize seed production here in Pakistan.

The USAID-funded AIP has been working together with the Pakistan Agriculture Research Centre to identify 50 hybrids and open pollinated maize varieties that are suitable for Pakistan’s ecology. 

These varieties are bred to resist drought and heat and have enhanced nutrition (more protein, pro-vitamin A, and zinc). These varieties deliver increased productivity and nutrients for both farmers and consumers.

This workshop celebrates both the yearlong progress of these seeds and recognizes US-Pakistan cooperation dating back to the 1960s, when a team of American and Pakistani scientists, introduced the Mexi-Pak wheat variety in Pakistan. Between 1961 and 1969, wheat production in Pakistan increased by 25 per cent.  USAID Deputy Mission Director, Julie Chen remarked, “With these new maize varieties, we have more available, accessible, and affordable climate-resilient and nutrient-enriched maize for local seed companies and public research institutions. 

The handover of new maize varieties last year was a small part of how America supports agriculture in Pakistan. The potential in these seeds will go a long way to improve the lives of millions of Pakistani farmers.”

Speaking at the occasion, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, the Minister for National Food Security and Research, thanked the United States for sharing latest technology and research with Pakistani farmers and hoped that Pakistani organizations will take these seeds and make sure they are available to farmers at their local input supply store.

Launched in 2013, AIP is an initiative of USAID, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, and the Pakistan Agriculture Research Centre and works to increase agricultural productivity and incomes through the promotion and dissemination of modern technology for wheat, maize, rice, livestock, fruits, and vegetables.