Islamabad (16th May 2020).............. Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan, Chairman PARC visited Gujranwala area along with a team of rice experts, agricultural engineers and social scientists from PARC/NARC and hold a formal meeting with private sector entrepreneurs and progressive farmers promoting mechanical sowing of the rice crop. He emphasized that mechanical sowing of the crop has clear advantage over other sowing methods in terms of timely sowing of the crop, saving of manual labour, keeping recommended level of plants per unit area, increase in productivity of the crop by at least 10-15% and saving of precious resources for profitable farming. He expressed that farmers need skill to raise mat nursery and then mechanically transplant it. He suggested rice experts from PARC to demonstrate mechanical sowing of the crop along with direct sowing and conventional flat sowing/ manual transplanting in current Kharif season. He stressed them to acquire knowledge about best practices of these sowing techniques and document practical knowledge after planting trials of these techniques at multiple sites with different replications about varieties, sowing time and input use etc. He reiterated that this well help Crop SciencesInstitute, PARC-NARC; National Coordinator Rice, PARC, and Rice Program Kala Shah Kaku to redesign their research plan and efforts to enhance productivity of the rice and wheat crops in the rice-wheat cropping zone in particular and other major crops in general. He stated that this will further help for crop diversification in the country, accelerate import substitution for oil seeds and pulses and result in saving of precious foreign exchange.
Dr. Raheel Safdar Chattha, a progressive grower and private sector entrepreneurs from Verpal village of Gujranwala shared his experiences to introduce mechanical sowing of the crop in rice-wheat zone. He informed that his firm is annually extending mechanical transplanting services to the farmers on more than 1200 acre with eight mechanical transplanters in Gujranwala district. While Agricultural Services Providers (ASPs) with more than 100 mechanical transplanting machines, who themselves are generally large farmers are extending services to the farmers in other districts in the rice-wheat zone. They charge Rs.8000 per acre for the services without nursery cost and Rs.9500 per acre including nursery cost. However, the charges do vary with farm location and availability of nursery with farmers. Dr. Raheel informed that generally refurbished rice on transplanting machines with eight rows are imported from Japan at price of Rs.1.25 million per machine. He told the participants that introduction of cheap polythene trays for nursery raising in place of hard plastic trays has resulted in substantial decrease in the cost.He said that machine sowing of nursery has clear advantage over manually sown nursery in trays.
Chairman PARC extended his corporation to Dr. Raheel and stressed on up-scaling of the technology with special coverage of the services to small farmers. He also requested him to make an endeavour to obtain support of local support organizations like NRSP, provincial agricultural extension department and research/academic institutions including Rice Research Institute, Kala Shah Kaku and Faculty of Life Sciences Management, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore for large scale adoption of the technology. Chairman, PARC suggested Agricultural Engineers from PARC to visit manufactures of Direct Dry Seeding of Rice (DSR) Drills in Sialkot for calibration to adjust seed rate at optimum level i.e. from 8kg per acre to 4kg per acre.Mr. Safdar Chattha, a progressive grower and farmers’ representative thanked Chairman PARC and researchers from PARC/NARC for visiting the area. He appreciated the efforts being made by the PARC for the development of the agriculture sector and well-being of farming community in the country.
(Ghulam Shabbir Mirza)