Dr Muhammad Ijaz Tabassum

Yield accelerating from 2525 ton per hectare to 6252 ton per hectare during early sixties was actually the marvelous achievement done by wheat breeders in Pakistan.

It was the Mexipak-65, a wheat variety that raised not only almost the double production in the country but it also enhanced the social status of the farmers. Behind the curtain of maximization, Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad (AARI) has made an outstanding contribution by the evolution of excellent wheat varieties in Pakistan. The yield potential of first and pioneer wheat variety ‘T9’ resulted by direct selection in the united Punjab, released during 1911 for general cultivation remained 2402 kg per hectare. Before the partition, eight (8) wheat varieties naming T9, T11, 8A, 9D, C-518, C-591, C-228 and C-250 were among the farmers’ fields. The yield potential of these varieties was not more than 30 mnds/acre or 3000 kg per hectare, even two wheat varieties C-271 and C-273 released after partition.

In the meantimes, during and after the decades of sixties, world renowned and legendry wheat breeders Dr SA Qureshi and Dr Manzoor Ahmad Bajwah worked a lot for attaining self sufficiency in the country. The stature of olden wheat varieties was so maximum that lodged easily by even light shower and wind too. Consequently, reduction in wheat production and deterioration in quality occurred on national level.

Wheat plant breeders felt the matter keenly hence; they worked day and night to reshape the genetic potential of wheat on genic level. Resultantly, maturity period has been reduced from 175 (C-591) to 140 (Shafaq-06) days only. Stature of wheat plant has also been minimized from 150 cm (C-591) to 80 cm (Shafaq-06) which geared up the yield potential of wheat varieties from 2.4 tons per hectare(24 mnds per acre) to 7.9 tons per hectare (79 mnds per acre).

Up till now, AARI has released 79 wheat varieties for general cultivation to the farmers of the province including, Mexipak-65, Chenab-70, Blue silver, Yecora-70, Lyallpur-73, SA-42, Pak-81, Punjab-85, Chakwal-86, Inqilab-91, Bhakhar-2002, Seher-06, Faisalabad-08, Lasani-08, Chakwal-50, BARS-09, AARI-11, Millat-11, Punjab-11, Dharabi-11, Aas-11, Galaxy-13 and Ujala-15. Farmers, though, are the end-user of our research business. So, adoption of any variety of any crops is the best indicator of research impact or research productivity.

Here I can mention the example of two wheat varieties. Shalimar-88 is the first case and secondly the Watan. Although Shalimar-88 was the high yielding variety but it was badly attacked by yellow rust and rejected by the farmers. Similarly, Watan variety with the code V-87094, was high yielding line having an excellent chapatti making quality but could not be approved by the Plant Breeders due to occurring the highly infestation of yellow and brown rusts. No doubt, it was grown by the large number of farmers uptill now even after two decades, farmers like it very much due to its chapatti quality.

Under the supervision of dynamic Director General (Research), Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad Dr Abid Mahmood planned to disseminate the impact of research for the nation with the caption Impact Assessment Series, in which impact of research on every crop will be elaborated. Recent issue of impact assessment series on wheat breeding research is now published. Director Wheat Research Institute, Faisalabad Dr Makhdoom Hussain decorated the book with comprehensive data for the reader lovers.  Writers of the mentioned book viz. Dr Muhammad Ishaq Javaid, Agri Economist, Dr Abid Mahmood, Director General (Research), Ayub Agri. Research Institute, Dr Makhdoom Hussain, Director Wheat Research Institute, and Miss Amina Gulza Assistant Research Officer, categorized the current issue with introduction, wheat breeding research, adoption of wheat varieties and impacts of AARI’s wheat breeding research.

According to them, Share of AARI’s wheat varieties in Punjab’s wheat cultivation remained above 98% during the last ten years. Inqilab-91 ruled over the wheat fields of Punjab from 2000 to 2010. Its share in total wheat cultivation of Punjab remained between 72% and 31% during these years. Wattan remained popular among Punjab‘s wheat growers. Its share in Punjab’s total wheat area remained between 6% and 15% during 2000 to 2014. Bhakkar-2002 gained popularity among wheat farmers after 2003 due to its non-lodging intensity. Its maximum share in Punjab’s wheat cultivation was recorded 27.50% in 2008-09.

Seher-06 replaced Inqilab-91 after 2008-09. Its share in Punjab’s total wheat cultivation remained above 50% from 2011-12 to 2013-14. Similarly Faisalabad-08 covered 12% wheat area of the Punjab province during 2014. Additional wheat produced due to the plantation of AARI’s wheat varieties remained between 1755 thousand tons and 3349 thousand tons annually during 2000 to 2014.

On an average, wheat farmers of Punjab harvested additional 2811 thousand tons wheat annually by planting wheat varieties developed by AARI’s research systems.

The value of additional wheat produced in Punjab attributable to AARI’s research system was estimated at Rs 43 billion annually. Wheat growing families of Punjab reaped additional 441 kilogram wheat per hectare annually due to AARI’s wheat breeding research.

On an average, additional income earned by wheat growing families of Punjab by adopting AARI’s wheat varieties was Rs 6563 per hectare per year during 2000 to 2014. Actually, Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad no doubt, is an Asian Headquarters in agriculture research but its success, achievements, discoveries and inventions are not highlighted so far upto the national level. Writers must be felicitated on having this idea to aggregate the information to the knowledge seekers in the form of book on impact assessment series of AARI. 

It was highly informative issue on wheat crop regarding wheat scientists, scholars, faculty members and policy makers too. Information like this impact assessment series of each crop must be multiplied through print and electronic media.