LAHORE - High yielding hybrid rice area is going to cross 50 per cent in three years from present 25 to 30 per cent paddy coverage, yielding additional two million tons output, said Shahzad Ali Malik, Chief Executive Officer of Guard Rice Research & Services Pvt Ltd at a function.

All efforts of introducing hybrid rice seed in Pakistan is being commanded by national seed companies mainly in collaboration of Chinese leader in research & development with 'Guard Agri' having the lion's share. Several multinational seed companies like, Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta and Bayer did try to introduce hybrid rice seed but failed to outperform national seed companies.

Their varieties were less rewarding for farmers due to lack of jump in production while seed cost was also high if compared with what local seed companies were offering, Shahzad Ali Malik said.

Malik, who is founding president of Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) and ex-presidents of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and LCCI, said that with untiring efforts of local scientists, the role of private sector in seed research and development is increasing day by day.

With doubling of hybrid rice seed coverage from present 25-30 per cent to over 50 per cent in next three years, national rice production is potentially expected to be increased by hefty two million tons. At present yield is 6.9 million ton from 2.79 million hactares. By doubling the area from 25 per cent to 50 per cent, the expected increase in yield will be around 2 million tons and total yield will be around 9 million tons, he explained.

In total rice hybridization, around 90 per cent area of long-grain paddy is in Sindh province while 10 per cent in South Punjab. As aromatic basmati rice is first choice for farmers in Punjab, coarse varieties area is still low.

However, with production of hybrid rice seed in central Punjab, paddy area in Punjab is likely to increase significantly in coming years, he observed.

The major factor behind success of national seed companies in large-scale acceptance of rice hybrid seed has been development of heat-resistance and drought-tolerant varieties, he said and adding multinational seed companies had varieties that could not perform well in harsh summer weather of Sindh and Southern Punjab.

Hence, Malik said, the long grain hybrid rice that substituted IRRI-6 in coastal belt and central Sindh is a major success as its export market is rapidly evolving in the favour of farmers and exporters.

The higher yield and lower production give a premium to farmers, considerably changing their socio economic conditions.

Consequently, our long grain rice is gaining grounds globally with much ease by competing major producers and exporters countries of the world like Vietnam and Thailand. It is pertinent to mention here that Shahzad Ali Malik is one of the most prominent entrepreneurs who spearhead private sector research and development (R&D) in agriculture.

His company has emerged as a leader in demand-driven research in agriculture, challenging the monopoly of public sector institutions and multinationals.

With great passion to increase productivity of farming sector, Shahzad Ali Malik is actively striving to achieve food security in his untiring efforts spanning over past 25 years. He successfully pioneered the introduction of hybrid rice seed in Pakistan with collaboration of Chinese scientists.