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Inauguration of first Maize Stem Borer Mass Rearing Lab in Pakistan

Islamabad (October 25)………….. Under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Agricultural Innovation Program for Pakistan (AIP); Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) inaugurated the first national maize stem borer mass rearing laboratory at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad.

While speaking on this occasionActing Chairman PARC,  Dr. Nadeem Amjad said that today’s event is part of PARC-CIMMYT continued activities, to enhance, the livelihood of resource poor farmers in Pakistan. He said that in the last couple of years, we have witnessed very promising results under AIP Maize. The introduction of high yielding, climate resilient maize germplasms, distribution of protein enriched, maize seeds to farmers, testing of pro-vitamin A, and Zinc enriched maize hybrids, and introduction of biotic stress tolerant maize varieties are among the unique interventions which were not well addressed by the maize sector of Pakistan. 

Dr. Nadeem Amjad appreciated the help of CIMMYT by mentioning the decade’s long collaboration with PARC and CIMMYT. He further said “We need to harness the innovation and experiences of this global center to further improve our maize and wheat bases systems. We are pushing to realize Norman Borlaug Institute in Pakistan as an innovation platform where relevant international research centers can operate from one umbrella for the economic benefit of Pakistan”. He also expressed the generous financial support from USAID.

CIMMYT Country Representative-Pakistan, Dr. Muhammad Imtiazin his opening remarks said that his facility is a joint initiative of NARC and CIMMYT. The facility will contribute to develop maize varieties resistance to maize stem borer, a destructive maize pest in Pakistan which can cause upto 60% yield loss in severe cases. Under the AIP for Pakistan, 12 varieties are being screened for their tolerance by applying artificial infestation. Preliminary results show that 3-4 varieties significantly tolerated the heavy infestation of the pest with survival rate reaching up to 90%. “This is the reason why we are working under AIP on the identification of host-plant resistance in maize so that small scale farmers can have alternative perhaps better option in tackling the pest”, he added.  He further said that this is also our effort to enhance productivity by promoting gas emission from unwise use of pesticides.

Director General NARC,  Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khanin his welcome addressed appreciated the role of CIMMYT & USAID under AIP program for revitalizing maize program in many aspects. He said today’s lab inauguration is also an indication of our commitment to enhance maize based technologies in Pakistan. He further said that NARC becomes the owner of very valuable and precious diverse maize germplams and parental lines. We are giving support to the program to benefit small scale farmers of the country.

USAID Representative and Deputy DG DPEP NARC Dr. Tariq Mahmoodsaid that the facility will serve as a training and research hub for students and researchers who wish to study the biology of the pest and other related activities. Apart from research institutions, universities and zoological laboratories the lab will help the private sector to screen their products. Private companies could get the service of this lab if they wish to check the efficacy of environmentally friendly insecticides or to design an integrated pest management practices.  

 ( Sardar Ghulam Mustafa )                                                                                Edited by: (Sabiha Amin)
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