Pak-China researchers join hands for new wheat varieties
by Wang Kai
MULTAN, Dec 20 (China Economic Net) - "We are trying to cross the high-yielding and drought-resistant Chinese wheat germplasm with our local ones. Once accomplished, they are expected to reduce the cost by 13% and increase farmers’ return by 25-27% percent", envisioned Prof. Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman Athar of Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan.
He is working with researchers of the Northwest A&F University, China under the Sino-Pak Biohealth Agriculture Oversea Sci-tech Demonstration Park project.
"Hopefully within the next 3 to 4 years, we will have clear-cut results of the inclusion of Chinese blood in Pakistani varieties".
During the past three years, the two sides have been publishing papers jointly, exchanging scientific visits, and submitting research projects.
"Our group for the wheat research consists of 34 students including undergraduates, masters, and doctoral candidates", introduced Prof. Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman Athar.
Breeding of new wheat varieties under the Sino-Pak Biohealth Agriculture Oversea Sci-tech Demonstration Park [Photo provided to CEN]
The priority of their work is to identify stress tolerant wheat cultivars by screening and selecting the local germplasm as well as the exotic ones. Among Chinese germplasm, five lines have been found good-performing in terms of yield and tolerance. Wheat cultivar S24 has been verified by international research institutes including the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and proved to be high-yielding and salt stress tolerant. In the next step, they are going to cross it with other cultivars that are of moderate height and rust-resistant.
The group is also working to apply Chinese nano fertilizers and nano biochar to Pakistani wheat varieties.
Wheat is Pakistan’s number-one food crop. “During the last 10 years, around 15 lines have been rolled out, but since we now have Chinese germplasm, we can improve them. We aim to increase the yield by 2.7% and enhance the physiological performance by 27%”, Prof. Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman Athar told China Economic Net.
With the Sino-Pak Biohealth Agriculture Oversea Sci-tech Demonstration Park, farmers can look at the experimentation and actual cultivars.
“It will not only increase the productivity on the farmer field but also contribute to the food security of Pakistan”, said Prof. Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman Athar.