Pakistan has struck an unprecedented deal with Philippines for the export of hybrid rice seed. “For the first time in the history of the country, domestically developed hybrid seed will be traded to a foreign country. Philippines needs the seed for 2018 crop and we have already increased the production area to 900 acres to meet the demand,” said Mr. Shahrukh Malik, executive at Guard Agricultural Research & Services told journalists in a media briefing. “The climate in which hybrid rice seeds are bred in Sindh is similar to that of Philippines. Their experts assayed the procedure of seed production thoroughly at our farms before cutting a deal with us,” Malik disclosed. “Philippines has decided to import hybrid rice seed from Pakistan because the crop raised from this variety is less labor intensive compared to IRRI, that has over 137,000 varieties, he said.
Mr. Malik observed the export of hybrid rice seed will be a milestone in the country’s rice sector and will open new opportunities in the international market apart from giving local research and development a fresh impetus. “We have also developed a basmati hybrid seed. The field trials are already underway. It’s expected to be commercially available by 2018,” he said. But unfortunately lack of public-private sector partnership is hindering the progress of seed development in Pakistan. “Public sector has its own inherited problems, while the private sector conducts research with commercial result-oriented focus. Thus the pace of private sector is fast compared to the public,” Malik said. “Due to this deficit, the authorities take too long to green-signal a newly developed seed for commercial launch, hurting private sector growth,” he asserted.
At least 45 companies are importing hybrid seeds, including the top five firms of the world, but none of them is producing hybrid seeds in Pakistan, which is an obstacle in the transfer of technology to the country. Mr. Malik opinioned this deal would revolutionise the seed development and agriculture sector, “The government shall bind those companies to produce at least 20 percent of the total quantity of imported seeds in Pakistan.” Mr. Malik concluded, “A substantial increase in hybrid production and exports of non-basmati rice export is encouraging for the sector.”