Islamabad (December 22)…………. Present Government is committed that the ‘Right to Food’ is a fundamental right of every citizen within reasonable time frames. We are producing wheat for our domestic use as well as for our neighbor countries. By improving management practices, timely water and fertilizer application wheat production can be increased 5 – 7 pound. This was stated by Mr. Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research (NFSR) while addressing on the occasion of Launching Ceremony of Commemorative Postage Stamp on 100th Birthday Year of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) Park Road, Islamabad.
Mr. Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said scientists, media and extension workers play their role for transfer of new knowledge and innovations among farmers. He appreciated the support of USDA and CIMMYT to Pakistan agriculture sector development.
He said in Pakistan, wheat is the most important crop and its increased productivity is largely due to the development of high-yielding cultivars and fertilizer use. Dr. Norman led the introduction of high yielding wheat varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan and other South Asia countries. By 1969-70, most of Pakistani wheat farmers had adopted the new varieties. This trend of increasing wheat production was further improved in the later years through following the legacy of Dr. Borlaug by the wheat scientists and they continue to introduce high yielding varieties. Resultantly this led to record production of about 25.3 million tons during 2014.
He said this year is being celebrated as the 100th Birthday Year of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. During this year, PARC in collaboration with its international partners USDA and CIMMYT organized a series of events to highlight the significant achievements of the late Nobel Laureate and also hosted Jennie Borlaug, the daughter of Norman Borlaug during these events. Declaration of “Borlaug Avenue” and Unveiling of “Borlaug Institute for South Asia” at NARC are glimpses of that visit. Today event also a reflection of respect of commemorative postal stamp by the Government of Pakistan bears testimony to it. Borlaug always advocated increased investment in research and education and present government is offering its fullest possible support to strengthen the research system in the country.
Mr. Seerat Asghar, Federal Secretary of Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) said the issuance of postage stamps is a special tribute and compliment that the people and the Government of Pakistan are paying to a special person who is known as “Father of Green Revolution” at the occasion of his 100th Birthday Year. He said Dr. Borlaug worked with indefatigable energy to fight against hunger and malnutrition. Now, we are again facing challenges of not only providing food for more than 180 million population but also to ensure its accessibility and affordability. He said nature has gifted us all natural resources but still there exists a gap in productivity of various crops and the attainable production. Efforts are needed to accelerate the pace of agriculture development with same commitment and dedication that Dr. Borlaug exhibited when the whole world witnessed a green revolution. He further said successful life is better than wasted mortality. Every scientist has the responsibility to contribute in his field with the resources available with him.
Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad, Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) said today celebration is a story of science, knowledge, innovations and hardworking to reduce hunger. With the Borlaug’s work legacy today Pakistan is self-sufficient in wheat and the new wheat varieties introduced have contributed 7 times increased over 1960 wheat production. 131 wheat varieties have been developed and released for commercial cultivation in the twelve wheat production zones of the country since 1964. This year Pakistan achieved record wheat production of 25.3 million tons. Continuation of research on wheat persistent in Pakistan is a legacy of Dr. Borlaug, I remember the quote of Dr. Borlaug that “Rust never sleeps” and I must appreciate the wheat scientists for combating the rust menace and breeding the rust resistant varieties. Let us congratulate our wheat breeders for introducing 19 rust resistant varieties since 2009 and this is a tribute to Borlaug.
He said there are still investment needed in agricultural research and strengthening of research institutions to improve agriculture sector. We should learn from the lesson of Dr. Borlaug. Research results should reach at all communities of Pakistan for better results.
Dr. Shahid Masood, Member (Plant Sciences) PARCin his welcome address said Dr. Borlaug was a legendary CIMMYT scientist who developed high yielding, fertilizer efficient and semi dwarf wheat variety that is credited with saving over 1 billion people from starvation and avoid famine in South Asia. Only in Pakistan, the Mexi-Pak wheat variety doubled the wheat production between 1965 and 1970. This extraordinary yield become part of what is known as green revolution.
Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan, Director General of National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC)in his vote of thank said the presence of honourable Federal Minister for NFSR and Secretary MNFSR is indeed an expression of their deep commitment on behalf of Government of Pakistan to achieve food security targets of the rapidly increasing population of the country. He said MNFSR and PARC in collaboration with USDA and CIMMYT has organized number of events during last six months in Pakistan to celebrate the 100th Birthday of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug.
Dr. Muhammad Imtiaz, Country Representative CIMMYT-Pakistan read the message of Dr. Thomas Lumpkin, DG CIMMYT.A video message of DG CIMMYT was telecasted. In his video message Dr. Thomas said today is not just a celebration of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s achievements but also a time to mark a renewed commitment and collaboration between CIMMYT, PARC and USDA that will have a positive impact on millions of farmers and consumers across Pakistan and South Asia at large.
Dr. Thomas said Dr. Borlaug first came to Pakistan in 1960 at a time when it was facing mass starvation and extreme food security. His firs step towards helping Pakistan achieve wheat food security was to train local wheat scientists. In 1961, Manzoor A Bajwa became the first Pakistani researcher to go to Mexico for training and it was there that he selected the variety Mexi-Pak a white grain variety with high gluten strength to make chappatis and good resistance to rust and powdery mildew.
The majority of the wheat grown in Pakistan is a result of Pakistani/CIMMYT collaboration and Dr. Borlaug’s principles of free germplasm exchange are still supported by the national program. As a world’s agricultural ambassador, this stamp is a very fitting way to honor Dr. Borlaug’s work and close partnership with Pakistan.
Mr. Ronnie Coffman, Vice-Chair of Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) Mexico video message was also telecasted. In video message Mr. Ronnie said BGRI works with international partners like the PARC, AARI, CIMMYT and USAID to contain wheat rusts, enhance yields and manage threats to the global wheat supply. He said we follow Dr. Borlaug’s footsteps – the greatest hunger fighter of all, winner of the noble peace prize and father of the green revolution. Dr. Borlaug was just one of the many heroes of Pakistan’s wheat revolution. Starting with his first visit to Pakistan in 1963, he helped catapult Pakistan into wheat self-sufficiency. Today wheat production in Pakistan stands at 24 – 25 million tons annulally – an incredible testimony to what can happen when scientists, farmers, governments and funding agencies of the world work together.
Malik Shakir Bashir Awan, Chairman N.A. Standing Committee on National Food Security (NFSR), Director General (Post), Post Master General Raja Muhammad Munir, Dr. Attiq-ur-Rehman Rattu, National Coordinator (Wheat), Dr. Muhammad Munir, Member (C&M) PARC, Representatives of various international donors, M/o NFSR, Climate Change, Pakistani Wheat scientists and other senior PARC scientists and officers participated in the seminar.
(Sardar Ghulam Mustafa)
Director (PR and Protocol)