LAHORE: Improving water productivity in the rice ecosystem is inevitable for sustainable rice production and boosting rice exports of Pakistan from the current $2 billion to $5 billion, said Pakistan Basmati Heritage Association (PBHA) Director Sheikh Adnan Aslam.

He was speaking at the Khushal Kissan seminar arranged by the association for the promotion and preservation of basmati rice heritage of Pakistan.

Citing that PBHA was aimed at mitigating challenges to Basmati rice production, he lamented that Pakistan faced a looming water crisis and stressed the need for improving water productivity in rice fields. He shared the PBHA’s action plan for the promotion and preservation of Basmati rice for export.

Punjab Seed Corporation Director Malik Imtiaz, who was present in the seminar, advised farmers to use certified seeds every year which would served as a foundation for increasing the yield and quality of Basmati rice. He appreciated the initiative of PBHA for providing healthy and certified seeds at subsidised rates to the farmers.

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan former chairman Chaudhry Masood Iqbal emphasised that the government should introduce new basmati varieties for ensuring rice productivity and pest resistance. Praising PBHA’s mission, he termed it the ‘ray of light’ for the rice sector in Pakistan.

PBHA Coordinator Imran Sheikh elaborated the PBHA’s mission and advised Basmati rice farmers to adopt global rice standards of the Sustainable Rice Platform convened by the International Rice Research Institute for promoting resource efficiency and sustainability by ensuring food safety.

Fauji Fertiliser Senior Manager and Head of Advisory Services Rao Muhammad Tariq shared his views about balanced use of fertilisers and the importance of potash and micronutrients in boosting rice productivity, quality and profitability.

Engro Fertilisers Manager North Naeem Farukh emphasied the balanced use of fertilisers through 4R Principles (right type, right dose, right place and right time).

On-Farm Water Management Deputy Director Tariq Maqbool briefed the participants regarding dwindling water resources of Pakistan and underlined the importance of precision land levelling for improving water efficiency, yield and income.

Rice Research Institute Kala Shah Kaku Research Officer and Weed Scientist Dr Tahir Hussain Awan shared his experience of direct seeding and introduced a set of new technology for weed management.