Hybrid rice is a variety of rice that has been bred from two very different parents. The seed from the first cross of the two different parents is the hybrid variety. Hybrid rice breeding first requires identifying two optimal parents that when crossed together produce a hybrid product with desirable attributes including higher yield.
Hybrid rice seed production is usually only done by commercial seed producers who have the necessary knowledge, skills, and capacity to manage a very specialized field configuration and management to facilitate the cross pollination of the two parents and segregation of the hybrid rice seed to ensure its purity.
Hybrid rice has both greater vigor and higher yield than either parent variety – this is commonly called ‘hybrid vigor’. When grown under the same conditions as comparable high-yielding inbred rice varieties, commercial hybrid rice can generate up to 30 percent higher yields.
CHINA’S TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT
China has developed hybrid rice varieties in Pakistan. Pakistan recently asked technological help from China to develop and introduce hybrid rice varieties in country. The purpose was to increase in the production of rice. The Chinese response to the government’s request was prompt, quick and a team of scientists travelled to Pakistan for a month-long visit.
One of the world’s most renowned rice hybrid seed production companies carried out a program last month to help researchers, scientists, the farmers of Pakistan to produce hybrid rice seed and promote its productivity. Chinese agricultural scientists travelled to core rice-producing areas in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh. The scientist examined the growers’ requirements for hybrid rice seeds in the ecological zones of Pakistan where coarse rice production has great potential.
Scientists of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) forecast a great change in hybrid rice seed as a result of the cooperation between China and Pakistan. The Chinese team gave training in hybrid rice technology including hybrid rice breeding, parents breeding, hybrid seed production and field management skills for high-yield cultivation.
New varieties of rice hybrid seed the coarse or non-basmati rice will be developed to increase productivity, profitability and exports. About 54 rice hybrids belonging to different seed companies have been recommended for sowing by the PARC’s committee that evaluates seed varieties.
It is hoped that the new rice varieties will help farmers to significantly increase per-acre yield and exports. Low productivity is a major hurdle in improving the socio-economic condition of rice growers as they make low profits.
Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the cooperation between the two countries has enabled Pakistan to export hybrid rice seeds for the first time in its agricultural history.
The rice varieties produced in Pakistan are best known for their moisture, heat tolerance and better yields. It has been reported that Pakistan will get Chinese technological assistance in hybrid rice for at least four to five years.
Hybrid rice development would not affect basmati, Pakistan’s supreme rice. The purpose is to increase the productivity of hybrid or coarse rice varieties. These are in high demand in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa. After the successful results of hybrid rice in Sindh, the Guard Agricultural Research & Services Ltd (GARS) is planning to launch hybrid rice seeds (coarse variety) for growers in Punjab from next season.
Chinese scientists have completed test trials of Pakistani hybrid seed in Central Punjab and South Punjab. Seeds will be available commercially from the next season.
At present, the IRRI rice is giving 50-60 maunds per acre in Punjab and it is hoped that Pakistani hybrid seed would give 120-130 maunds per acre. With the sowing of the hybrid the production had increased by 55-60 percent and it is expected that same good result would be gained in Punjab also.
The Companies would be targeting Okara, Deepalpur, Pak Pattan and Haveli Lakha areas in the first phase. In Sindh, hybrid rice is being sown over 1.5 million acres of land and in Punjab potentially it could be sown over 4 million acres of land.
Trial in Punjab had been made on large scale and the Companies arranged visits of farmers so that they could see themselves, yield and other potential of this variety.
After the 18th amendment the companies were finding it hard to get their product registered with the provincial governments. It is proposed that seed should be registered at federal level and an Authority should be constituted on the pattern of Drug Registration Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) for medicine registration.
PERFECT CONDITION IN SINDH
Sindh province has prepared itself to become the centre of hybrid seed production in the country. There are good prospects of export to several South and South Asian countries. With an eye on the hybrid rice seed markets of China, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines, Pakistan has struck the first deal of exporting up to 100 tons of locally produced rice seed this year. Sindh has ideal conditions for the cultivation of hybrid rice. With strong support of Chinese research and development expertise, Sindh province succeeded in growing high-yielding hybrid rice in the rice zones of lower and upper Sindh.
Badin and adjoining districts provide ideal conditions for growing hybrid rice varieties having greater vigor and sturdy stem in coastal belt proved very successful in these conditions.
The introduction of hybrid rice seed back in 2,000 helped local farmers increase their income manifold. Rice seed cultivation in China is becoming expensive and Pakistan is ready to take this opportunity. Chai, a Chinese scientist, said despite high temperature and gusty winds, hybrid rice crops have proved to be very successful in the area.
Dai, another Chinese official, said that Pakistan-China partnership in rice production created an advantage situation for both countries. “Farming community and private sector are getting equally benefited from this venture,” Dai said expressing the hope this partnership would thrive down the line.
Successful cultivation of new hybrid rice developed by the Guard Agricultural Research & Services Limited and Yuan Longping High Tech Agriculture (China) has not only increased the per acre yield of paddy in Golarchi area of Sindh province but will also place Pakistan on the map of hybrid rice seed exporters. Sown on area of around 450,000 acres of land in Golarchi and other areas of Badin district, hybrid rice had pushed the per acre yield to double.
The new variety has taken the per acre yield to around 120 maund per acre and in some cases to over 140 maund per acre.