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Field Seminar on Water Saving and Crop Diversification Using Raised Beds in Rice-Wheat Zone- March 27, 2021 at Zaidi Farm Kakkar Gill Sheikhupura Organized by: CEWRI-Subcomponent of rice PSDP project

A field seminar was conducted at Zaidi Farm, village Kakkar Gill in Sheikhupura district on March 27, 2021. A nexus of 125 leading agricultural researchers/professionals from federal and provincial governments, heads of lined agricultural departments including extension, On Farm Water Management and research wing of Punjab, NGOs, progressive farmers, machinery manufacturers and agricultural service providers participated in the event. An update on the technical, research and financial aspects and available resources in mega projects on productivity enhancement of rice and wheat under the Prime Minister Agricultural Emergency Program (PMAEP) was shared by the keyproject stake holders.Addressing the concluding remarks Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan, appreciated the Zaidi Farm CEO for adopting advanced machinery and technology on his farm. He also appreciated all the researchers by presenting innovative solutions but mentioned lack of mechanism for follow-up, standardization and adoption as the main impediment. He mentioned the 13 projects and informed that particularly the crop productivity improvement projects under the PMAEP needs further progress for achieving the set targets. He also informed that we are revising the PC-1 and would try to improve the projects designs, to rationalize the budgets and to incorporate the missing technologies like conservation agriculture and permanent raised bed farming systems.Presenting the seminar objectives Dr Sarfaraz Ahmad, member NRD, PARC highlighted the importance of rice, potential and challenges and the efforts of PARC  forintegrating the different components for improving the projects outputs.  Dr Rai Niaz, Ex Vice Chancellor Arid Agricultural University Rawalpindi, shared the four-row wheat bed planter and hydroponic experience, and claimed that 50 acres yield from one acre is possible through Hydroponic technology and stressed the need for the expeditiously adoption using the agribusiness hub concept under the CPEC.Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Gill, CEO SACAN mentioned that conservation agriculture and permanent raised bed farming is practiced on 100 million hectares in sixty countries, while Pakistan is still far away in its adoption.  He termed raised bed as a drip system of the surface irrigation methods. Highlighting the service providers role, he mentioned that trained service providers have change zero tillage to hero tillage and informed about the soil testing kit available for the speedy soil testing.

Earlier, Dr Abul Fazal Zaidi, welcomed the participants and informed about his specialized farming activities, facilitation of neighbouring farmers and offered full support and cooperation to research and development agencies for using his farm. Dr Muhammad Anjum Ali, DG Agricultural Extension, summarized the activities and available facilities to farmers in multiple projects, jointly executed with PARC and other partners. He mentioned that despite hail storm, lodging and water stress during February 2021, especially in rainfed areas, the wheat production is still forecasted to be higher this year due to adoption of improved practices on farms. Chaudhary Abdul Ghafoor, PD Rice Punjab appreciated the CEWRI-NARC team for integrating the key stake holders and shared the technical details of available machinery and capacity building in the mega projects under the PMAEP.Mr Sultan Ali, Senior Researcher in Rice Research Institute (RRI), Kala Shah Kaku, shared some of the latest research on developing rice varieties tolerant to lodging, heat, drought, flood and salinity. Dr Muhammad Maqsood, Director OFWM training institute Lahore, informed about promotion of laser land levellers, canal and water course lining, bed planting machines, soil moisture monitoring sensors and training of farmers and updated regarding the available facilities to farmers.

Presenting the research findings, Dr Dilshad Ahmad Director Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) Lahore, mentioned 47% water saving and Rs 6000 per acre more benefit with raised bed than traditional flat sowing. He also shared the details of tensiometers and other sensors available for sale that can be used for irrigation scheduling and provided details of raised bedsmachine for rice developed by PCRWR. Dr Sikandar Khan Tanveer, Program leader wheat, NARC, shared the importance, potential and challenges of wheat farming in Pakistan and shared information regarding his research and dissemination activities undertaken under the Productivity Enhancement of Wheat of PMAEP program. Dr Ghani Akbar, PI Rice project from CEWRI-NARC, highlighted the water saving benefits achieved during 2020 from raised beds (29%), drip (73%) and AWD (19%) methods and introduced the permanent raised bed technology by highlighting their benefits and water saving mechanisms. Dr Hafiz Sultan, Director AEI-NARC, shared the machinery adoption issues and Pak Seeder experience and informed about the future programs of machinery development aimed for permanent raised beds under the proposed agricultural transformation scheme. Retired justice Syed Mehboob Qadir Shah, progressive farmer mentioned that despite elevated importance the Agriculture departments and researchers are poorly acknowledged, which is un-justice.

Shields were presented to leading progressive farmers, researchers, agricultural service providers and machinery manufacturers. A live demonstration of different raised bed machines for sowing wheat, maize, rice was conducted at farmer field. All the participants also observed different crops sown mechanically including wheat, maize, water melons, chillies, onion, garlic etc on raised bed beds at Zaidi Farm.


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