Pak-American scientists working to increase local wheat harvest

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FAISALABAD: American scientists and Pakistani wheat experts are collaborating to increase Pakistanís wheat harvest and ensure greater prosperity to farmers nationwide.

A bi-national team of scientists sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) met scientists in Faisalabad to evaluate wheat varieties for disease-resistance.

In order to determine which wheat varieties will perform best in Pakistanís unique ecosystem, US 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 specialised wheat planting and harvesting equipment.

The new machines, which replaced equipment over 25 years old would allow scientists to study more wheat varieties each year and more rapidly improve Pakistani farmersí harvest yields.

Wheat is critical to the food security of both Pakistan and the United States, said USDA Plant Health adviser Ian Winborne after a ceremony at Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) celebrating the handover of the new equipment.

Lasting links between Pakistani and US scientists can help improve and protect agricultural harvests in both our countries.

WPEP facilitates scientific collaboration between USDA, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and Pakistanís national wheat programmes.

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 US economic growth assistance programme, which includes expanding irrigation by more than 200,000 acres near the Gomal Zam and Satpara dams, constructing more than 1,000 kilometers of roads to connect communities and facilitate trade, modernising dairy farms in Punjab and launching private equity investment funds to help small and medium businesses grow.

Courtesy: †Daily Times

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