Wuhan and Punjab Universities launch joint research center on Honglian hybrid rice

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BEIJING, Sept. 3 : A formal ceremony held in Wuhan to start a project, establishing Wuhan University – University of the Punjab-Honglian Type Hybrid Rice Joint Research Center.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistani counterparts attended the ceremony online, Gwadar Pro reported on Thursday.

Honglian hybrid rice is one of the three major types of cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) of rice (Oryza sativa L.) that has been commercially used in hybrid rice seed production.

By 2020, the global acreage of Honglian hybrid rice has exceeded about 26.67 million hectares.The future three-year development plan of this research center was revealed by Zhu Renshan, professor-level senior engineer of Wuhan University who is now in charge of the international cooperation on this type of rice.

In 2020, they will cultivate expertise related to this area through training to start seed production locally in Pakistan. From 2021 to 2022, they plan to sift out new varieties that suit Pakistan’s environment well and up to Pakistan’s quality standard for rice to carry out parent line seed multiplication, and provide technical assistance for local farmers.

“We are a food safety community along the Belt & Road route. Improving both countries’ food supply is mutually beneficial. Sino-Pak cooperation on Honglian type hybrid rice will promote food safety in Pakistan and increase Pakistan’s rice export to other countries,” Zhu said.

Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq, associate professor at Institute of Agricultural Sciences, University of the Punjab, emphasized about the need of developing hybrid rice in Pakistan, and introduced the latest progress of Honglian type hybrid rice in Pakistan.

“The yields of rice varieties are low and stagnant in Pakistan which don’t match with increasing inputs. Due to the rising production cost, Pakistan’s agricultural products are becoming less competitive in international market. Moreover, land resources are declining, and water shortage problem has worsened. Therefore, the solution is to adopt hybrid rice,”said Dr. Ashfaq.

In 2019, the two universities tested 3 types of Honglian hybrid rice at Lahore and Gujanwala. The highest yield, which was shown by HP1 in Gujranwala, reached 12,900 kg per hectare, significantly surpassing the general yield of inbred rice that is only about 3,950 kg/ha.

In 2020, testing of hybrids is being done all over Pakistan and regional trials are being conducted at 7 locations i.e. Lahore, Manga Mandi, Vehari, Gujranwala, Pakpattan in Punjab, Shikar Pur and Larkana in Sindh.

Furthermore, adaptability trials by the government are being conducted under the supervision of National Coordinator Rice, and Distinctness Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing is being conducted by Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department.