The Pakistan government has approved 33 maize hybrids, two pearl millets (fodder), two sorghum sudan grass and one sorghum hybrid for commercial cultivation, a senior official said on Monday.
The Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) of the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) accorded approval to commercial cultivation of the crops.
Chairman PARC Umer Farooq, addressing a meeting, highlighted the role of PARC in the process of variety evaluation and its release. He also emphasised the role of legislation and stable performance of hybrids in the diversified agro-ecological zones.
PARC chairman appreciated the role of PARC coordination and the increasing trust of people on the system and urged the need to achieve self-sufficiency in local seed production to reduce the huge import volume of seeds.
Abdul Ghafoor, member of Plant Sciences, PARC chaired the variety evaluation committee meeting, which was attended by technical members from the National agriculture research system and private seed companies.
Presiding over the meeting, VEC chairman appreciated the emerging trend of local research and development of private seed companies in the country in seeds sector.
He said the aim of the VEC is providing quality hybrid to maize grower. The companies, including Monsanto and Syngenta and Pioneer presented 1, 2 and 3 hybrids respectively against local companies, which presented 42 hybrids while a public sector company presented one hybrid for recommendation.
However, 10 hybrids from the local companies have not been recommended because of their low performance or procedural deficiencies. The committee also discussed in details to address the problems like seeds production, approval, release and marketing of hybrid varieties in the country and discussed issues related to adaptability and national uniform yield trials.
Overall 48 proposals were thoroughly examined and 38 were allowed for enlisting with the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department. Maize production fell around two percent to 5.5 million tons last year. Last month, the government imposed a ban on further trials of genetically modified maize for unspecified period in a bid to avoid natural crop contamination that can subsequently hurt maize exports.
A notification, issued by Environmental Protection Agency of Ministry of Climate Change, titled ‘Suspension of GM Corn/Maize Activities in the Country’, said the decision was taken at a meeting of National Biosafety Committee.
All biosafety licences regarding import and field trials of genetically modified (GM) corn in the country has been suspended along with all related activities. After slapping a ban on import of GM corn seeds and other associated activities, the trials of bio-engineered maize came to a standstill.