Shahzad Ali Malik says that Pakistan is a land of opportunities and has the potential to meet all the challenges. He also believes that Pakistan can overcome all the economic challenges by focusing on agri-sector, which is, of course, the backbone of the Pakistan's economy. "Believe me, no government institution had so far been able to come up with any new rice varieties since 1960s when IRRI-6 (International Rice Research Institute) rice variety was introduced. After that our public research institute failed to bring out any new rice variety." Shahzad Ali Malik further said that our agri-scientists should not be blamed in this regard. "Actually our system does not encourage our agri-scientist. We must revamp our public research institutes. The government must provide incentives to the agri-scientists so that they could work in an independent and pleasant atmosphere to introduce new varieties of food staples," he asserted. He said that the Pakistani agri-scientists are among the leading scientists of the world. For example, Late Dr Abdul Majeed Pride of Performance and ex-Director General Rice Research Institute Kalashahkaku who being the breeder of Basmati-385, also developed Super Basmati. He said that Super Basmati was demand driven according to the requirement of the international market because of extra-long grain. Late Dr Abdul Majeed keeping in view the requirement of private sector rice exporters to compete with India in the international market carried out this demand driven resource. We should focus on extra-long grain to compete India in the international market, he said. "I have the honour and the privilege of having worked with Dr Abdul Majeed for more than nine years," Shahzad Ali Malik said. It is a classic example of research in collaboration with rice exporters, he added. Shahzad Ali Malik also said that although Super Basmati was officially approved in 1996 but by that time, the area under its cultivation in Punjab was almost only 40 per cent. "It was the collective vision and boldness of Dr Abdul Majeed who passed on Super Basmati variety to the private sector seed-cum-rice export companies which carried out successful introduction and commercialisation of the Super Basmati in the international market", he observed. He said that by adopting hybrid rice technology Pakistan could go up to 8 to 10 billion dollars rice export by 2012. He said that for the BT Cotton technology, Pakistan should look towards China and India instead of technology provider from USA. He also informed that Pakistan is producing around 5.5 million tons of rice per annum out of which 2.5 million tons is available for local consumption while around three million tons surplus production is exported. This year we have set a target to earn three billion dollars by exporting rice and we are sure to achieve this target due to higher prices of rice in the international market. There are two major varieties of Rice including IRRI-6 and Long Grain (Non-Basmati) variety. The trade of IRRI-6 is being done worldwide. Rice is more important food staple than the wheat because more than half of the world population consumes rice particularly in Asia. More than 50 per cent of the Pakistan's rice export is dependant on IRRI-6 because of its low price as the people in several countries of the world could afford only IRRI-6. Most of the rice producing and rice consuming countries are Pakistan, India, Japan, Indonesia and Philippine. Talking about the worldwide food shortage, Shahzad Ali Malik who is also Director Guard Group, said that global warming is also one of the major factors behind the food shortage all over the world. He says that the latest research has disclosed that one-degree increase in temperature result in 10 per cent decrease in grain production. He further revealed that the world has moved on ethanol, being produced from sugarcane and corn (maze) across the Europe and USA. The United Nations' World Food Programme has declared it a crime against humanity because the food for human being is being used to fill the tank of vehicles. The world must check such steps in order to arrest its affects. The present food crisis is an eye-opener for the economists and scientists all over the world, urging them to come out of deep slumber to find the solution of this problem by emphasising on agri-production. There are five private seed companies including two multinationals, which are operating in Pakistan at present. He said that the Guard Research Institute and Services Pvt Ltd had introduced hybrid technology in Pakistan to increase the rice production. This technology was introduced in 1999 in upper Sindh and Balochistan. Last year, rice crop through hybrid technology was cultivated on more than 150,000 acre of land in Pakistan and the growers got double production due this latest technology. This year we have planned to bring 300,000 acre land under-cultivation to get surplus production of rice. He further informed that once food shortage was the biggest challenge for China, which had 22 percent of the world population with only 8 percent arable land. A great Chinese scientist late Prof Longping accepted this challenge and invented hybrid technology in 1970s, and provided a solution of the problem to the Chinese. Eminent scientist on agriculture late Prof Longping, known as father of hybrid technology, is considered as national hero in China, having his statues in public parks and on the post cards. There was a revolution in the rural areas of China after the invention of this technology. While appreciating the government's announcement that foreign investment in agriculture sector would be encouraged, Shahzad Ali Malik, the tycoon in the agriculture sector of Pakistan, said that it is the need of the hour to focus on agri-sector in order to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich, which is only possible by emphasising on agriculture. He was of the view that Saudi Arabia, UAE and other gulf-states now have realised the importance of agriculture. "Pakistan is the best option for them as far the investment is agriculture sector is concerned. The Pakistani government must provide them the opportunity to invest in the agri and livestock farming," he suggested. Shahzad Ali Malik, unlike other businessmen, sees good business opportunities in Pakistan and stressed the authorities to find out the problem and its solution by implementing best policies to meet the challenges. "Now is the time to earn Agro-dollars through research-oriented agriculture like Arab nationals are earning Petro-dollars through petroleum products and Pakistan has the potential to earn Agro-dollars because out country is a land of opportunities," he said. Though the government has given top priority to the agriculture sector in the proposed budget 2008-09 but the leading professionals believed that the government did not do anything extraordinary, which it should be doing under present circumstances to overcome the food shortage in Pakistan. "This (budget) is an eyewash, lips service and not enough. The government must take drastic measures to overcome the food crises instead of such stopgap arrangements. We don't have any other option but to focus on research-oriented agriculture to get surplus production, decrease input cost," said Malik. The core for Pakistan's economy at present is raw material and agriculture sector could overcome this problem, Shahzad Ali Malik said. He said that the private sector has provided the solution to the government by identifying the problem of low yielding and now the government should join hands with private sector to overcome the challenges especially of the food shortage.