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March 10, 2013

ADB evolving strategy to develop basmati value chain in Punjab

National

March 10, 2013

LAHORE: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has started evolving a strategy to develop basmati value chain in Punjab, while aiming to improve the productivity and livelihood of farmers, by developing new high yielding, disease resistant, heat and drought tolerant varieties and postharvest support to reduce crop losses.
The ADB team held a consultative meeting with stakeholders at the Punjab Agricultural Research Board (PARB) for the proposed “Research and development technical assistance: Punjab Basmati Rice Value Chain”.
The purpose of the meeting was to identify key challenges and opportunities for basmati as well as innovative technology that the research and development technical assistance can pilot test that could improve the rice productivity and livelihood of the farmers. Among others, mill-owners, exporters, international input suppliers and buyers and basmati farmers attended the meeting.
Donneth Walton, representative of the ADB, said that Pakistan is least developed in agriculture as compared to other regional countries such as China, Thailand and Malaysia. The ADB along with public-private sector should work mutually on focused areas that can enhance rice productivity on a large scale, he said.
Lourdes Adriano, adviser and concurrently practice leader of the ADB, said, at the end of their visit to Pakistan, they would evolve a strategy for developing rice value chain, which will be transparent and participatory of the public-private sectors.
She said that their visit will be helpful in identification of the key issues under the project, its impact, outcome, outputs, cost estimates, financing plan and monitoring framework.
The concept note of the ADB project is the development of the rice value chain in Punjab. It has an ongoing multi-tranche financing facility for the Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Programme, amounting to $700 million that will improve more than the century-old irrigation infrastructure and associated facilities in

the province, besides enhance the institutional capacities.
By 2017, the project is expected to irrigate over two million hectares, increase cropping intensity by 10 percent and an average farm income by 10 percent to at least 275,000 farm households.
Addressing to the participants, Mubarik Ali, chief executive of PARB, about the board’s strategy regarding research, achievements and vision.In his response towards international collaboration, he said that the board has established coordination among various organisations to mutually work in the development of national interest. “World famous institutions such as CYMMIT, IRRI and various international universities are working on PARB projects and the results are very fruitful to obtaining the objectives of the project,” he added.
In a presentation, he highlighted the PARB’s vision for rice as enhance productivity, genetic improvement through traditional and biotechnology (pest control, etc), development of new plant type (stiff stem, low tillering, erect and thick leaves, slow senescence, more number of grain per panicle and intermediate plant height.
Other focal areas are development of shorten period varieties to enable rice better compete in cropping system and developing hybrids suitable for various eco-region, besides resolving the value chain-related issues.
The board is also in the process of developing processes for par-boiled, steam, rice, etc, and developing byproducts such as bran oil, more productive use of rice straw, etc.
PARB has already funded five projects exclusively on rice amounting to Rs133.245 million, having international collaboration with IRRI, India and national collaboration with AARI, NIAB, NIBGI, UAF and the private sector.
Briefing about the projects, Dr Ali said that a five-year project with a cost of Rs74.474 million is “Control of bacterial leaf blight (BLB) in rice through management and resistance”, having collaboration with ABRI, UAF, NIAB and NIBGE (Faisalabad) and Emkay Seeds (Ltd), Sheikhupura. The output of the project is survey of diversity of BLB strains in Punjab and its remedy.
The second four-year project with a cost of Rs13.908 million is “Standardisation and popularisation of direct seeding to increase rice productivity and resource conservation” with an objective to decrease water and labour requirements of rice crop and increase the productivity per unit area.
The third three-year project, costing Rs12.334 million is “Exploration of rice bran oil production” with an objective to develop rice bran stabilisation technology for preserving oil quality.
The fourth three-year project with a cost of Rs9.854 million is “Developing parboiling technology and rice varieties suitability for parboiling” having collaboration with the Food Technology, AARI, Faisalabad. The output of the project is rice varieties suitable for parboiling, identification and commercialisation, according to the presentation.
The five-year project with a cost of Rs20.275 million is “Utilising bacterial ACC-deaminase biotechnology to enhance water use efficiency for sustainable production of cereals” having collaboration with PMAS University, with an objective of screening of different PGPR and find out the most efficient bacteria to enhance water use efficiency.
The output of the project is to develop a bio-fertiliser for wheat and rice, demonstrated and commercialised to the end-users that will reduce water requirement by 30 percent in rice and wheat.
Exchanging views about the issues of rice sector, the stakeholders said that the quality of seed is important as most of the farmers are using 30 percent certified varieties, while the rest of 70 percent is farmer’s own seed and that is why yield and productivity of super basmati is declining for the last few years.
Mushtaq Ahmed Gill, water expert, suggested that the conventional ways of farming should be replaced by mechanised ones and there is a need to sensitise farmers.
The key issues being suggested by the participants were to focus on better seed quality, mechanised transplanting, post-harvest losses, flood and drought-resistant rice varieties, improvement of soil conditions, non-basmati high yield varieties, water conservation techniques and promotion of DS technology on a large scale.
Other participants of the meeting includes Akmal Siddiq, director of the Institutional Services Division, Jiangfeng Zhang, principal of Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist, Shahzad A Malik, chief executive officer of Guard Ltd, Sajjad Sulaiman Malik, chief executive officer of Emkay Seeds Pvt. Ltd, Abdul Samad Khan, chief executive officer of Engro, Athar Abbasi of Sygenta Pakistan, Dr Abdul Rehman of PARC, Asif Khan, consultant on Agri Economics, and Dr Makhdoom Abdul Jabbar, member PARB.

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