Faisalabad: American scientists and Pakistani wheat experts are collaborating to increase Pakistan’s wheat harvest and ensure greater prosperity to farmers nationwide. A bi-national team of scientists, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), met in Faisalabad last week to evaluate wheat varieties for disease-resistance. In order to determine which wheat varieties will perform best in Pakistan’s unique ecosystem, U.S. and Pakistani researchers studied the effects of heat and other types of environmental stress on the different varieties of wheat that can be planted in Pakistan.
USDA, through its Wheat Productivity Enhancement Project (WPEP), currently helps evaluate 60 wheat varieties planted in 115 wheat trials throughout Pakistan. In order to increase the quality of this joint research, last week USDA also provided Pakistani research institutions specialized wheat planting and harvesting equipment. The new machines, which replaced equipment over 25 years old, will allow scientists to study more wheat varieties each year and more rapidly improve Pakistani farmers’ harvest yields.
“Wheat is critical to the food security of both Pakistan and the United States,” said USDA Plant Health Advisor Ian Winborne after a ceremony at Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) celebrating the handover of the new equipment. He added, “Lasting links between Pakistani and U.S. scientists can help improve and protect agricultural harvests in both our countries.”
WPEP facilitates scientific collaboration between USDA, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and Pakistan’s national wheat programs. WPEP funds scientific exchanges to develop, introduce, and test disease-resistant wheat varieties; improve agronomic practices; and upgrade research capacity in Pakistan.
This initiative is just one part of a comprehensive U.S. economic growth assistance program which includes expanding irrigation by more than 200,000 acres near the Gomal Zam and Satpara dams; constructing more than 1,000 km of roads to connect communities and facilitate trade; modernizing dairy farms in Punjab; and launching private equity investment funds to help small and medium businesses grow.