Scientists Researching On Strip Intercropping Techs To Shrink Import Bill
Sino-Pak cooperation is a unique characteristic of NRCI, which operates under the motto “Think Globally, Act Locally”.
Young Pakistani agricultural scientists are studying strip intercropping technologies at the National Research Center of Intercropping (NRCI), Islamia University of Bahawalpur (IUB), in an effort to lessen the country’s already significant import burden of food products, particularly soybeans.
It’s amazing that their current work, which has been a shining example of Sino-Pak cooperation in scientific research and educational exchange, was born out of their collaboration with China but optimised specifically for Pakistan based on the country’s realities.
Dr. Muhammad Ali Raza, a postdoc who graduated from Sichuan Agricultural University (SAU), China, has been promoting China’s maize-soybean strip intercropping technology in Pakistan since 2018 with the support and guidance of his professor Yang Wenyu.
This technology has gotten positive feedback recently, especially from local industrialists and forward-thinking farmers. After years of dedication, he has achieved success as a Pakistani agronomist and intercropping research specialist.
The National Research Center of Intercropping was established on August 11, 2021, thanks to the vision of IUB Vice Chancellor Prof. Athar Mahboob, in order to implement strip intercropping technologies in Pakistan’s agriculture to increase crop yields and soil productivity.
As the centre’s current director, Dr. Muhammad Ali Raza is driving the adoption of intercropping technology in Pakistan. The centre has already tested wheat-soybean strip intercropping and developed and optimised the Chinese maize-soybean strip intercropping technology based on regional conditions.
The centre is also developing sugarcane-based intercropping systems to improve resource use efficiency and land productivity in Pakistan’s sugar belt.
Rapeseed, soybean, clover, and chickpea were tested in strip intercropping systems with sugarcane and wheat as the primary crops, and these secondary crops were developed specifically for intercropping.
In order to promote the mechanization of strip intercropping systems in Pakistan using the country’s already-existing farm machinery, the centre is also researching various row configurations, particularly the wider strips. Sino-Pak cooperation is a unique characteristic of NRCI, which operates under the motto “Think Globally, Act Locally”.
To exchange resources, researchers, and students, the centre has signed multi-dimensional Memorandums of Understanding with Sichuan Agricultural University (SAU), Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GAAS), and Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS).
Additionally, the centre has begun working with Nanjing Agricultural University’s National Soybean Center (NSC), Agro-ecology and Conservation Lab, and Molecular Biology Lab (NAU).
It has been discovered that GAAS is the sole sponsor of the NRCI research on the development and optimization of maize-soybean strip intercropping technology using water-saving techniques like drip irrigation. Later, GAAS will assist with the dissemination and transfer of the developed technology to Pakistan.
In addition, there are currently eight researchers at NRCI, including four agronomists, two breeders, two soil scientists, and one crop modeler. Of these, five received Chinese scholarships for their Ph.D. studies at prestigious agricultural universities in China, including Sichuan Agricultural University and Nanjing Agricultural University.
They are using what they learned in China to develop Pakistan’s agricultural sector after receiving excellent grooming and training in strip-intercropping research and the molecular physiology of the crops. “Through bilateral cooperation, Pakistanis would undoubtedly be trained and prepared to combat the current economic calamity.
In particular, China’s support for agricultural education and training would undoubtedly increase agricultural productivity in Pakistan, which would not only stabilise the country’s economic situation but also provide China with a nearby and more affordable food source, potentially easing the pressure on China’s food security “With the intention of achieving a win-win situation through Sino-Pak agricultural cooperation, Dr. Muhammad Ali Raza stated.