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Chinese hybrid wheat brings hope for farmers in Pakistan

Date:2018-08-22 Source:China Daily

By Liu Zhihua

Farmers in Pakistan are expecting improved crop yields as field trials conducted by a Chinese State-owned enterprise involving hybrid wheat has yielded impressive results.

Chinas' Sinochem Group Co, which has interests in chemicals and other agriculture-related services, has conducted field trials of hybrid wheat varieties and realized on average 24.4 percent increase in crop yields, according to company officials. It is also playing an important role in boosting trade ties under the country's innovative Belt and Road Initiative.

"The tests on the hybrid varieties were implemented in 230 sites, spread over 2,000 hectares of land, mostly in experimental bases or local farms," said Chen Zhaobo, general manager of CNSGC Hybrid Wheat Seed (Beijing) Co, a subsidiary of China National Seed Group Co under Sinochem Group Co, that is responsible for the hybrid wheat promotion project in Pakistan.

"The good results from the experiments offer bright prospects for large-scale cultivation of hybrid varieties in Pakistan."

The project's local business and science partners said that yields from hybrid wheat varieties rose as much as 50.1 percent from 2017 to 2018 in the northern wheat growing areas and by 45 percent in the central areas.

Wide cultivation of such high-yielding hybrid wheat varieties will provide more options for Pakistan to secure food supply, as wheat is one of the main staples for 80 to 90 percent of the population. In addition, nearly 50 percent of the available farmland in Pakistan is used for wheat crops, said Zhang Shengquan, manager of the scientific research department with CNSGC Hybrid Wheat Seed (Beijing) Co.

Muhammad Arif, a professor at the University of Agriculture, Peshawar, said in a recent interview that hybrid wheat cultivation will help Pakistan to conserve a lot of land for growing other important agricultural products.

The hybrid technologies used in developing such varieties are the two-line hybrid wheat technology system, a world-leading innovation developed by Chinese scientists in the 1990s. To develop hybrids that are distinct to Pakistani crop conditions, the company has established a research center in China's Yunnan province, Zhang said.

Compared with China, wheat cultivating areas in Pakistan often suffer from drought and high temperatures. During dry season, such as in March and April, temperatures in the country can reach to 33 to 40 degrees Celsius. Besides, wheat growth period in a year in Pakistan spans only 120 to 150 days, while in China, the time span is about 200 days, according to Chen, the general manager.

The company has so far deployed 150 technicians in Pakistan to solve project-related problems and they have traveled nearly 10,000 kilometers and to more than 20 cities, Chen said.

Song Weibo, vice-president of the agriculture business unit at Sinochem and general manager of China National Seed Group Co, said the former will continue its efforts to promote hybrid wheat in Belt and Road-related countries and regions. Since 2012, the company has been promoting hybrid wheat in Uzbekistan and Bangladesh.

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