Exploring the Scope of Plant Breeding and Genetics
In this blog post, I will be exploring the scope of plant breeding and genetics in Pakistan. Seeds are at the center of crop production in diverse environments all over the world. They create staples like wheat and corn that feed communities. But seeds play an even more critical role in the developing world, where they make up one-third of national food supplies. Plant breeders need to meet development needs by developing new varieties for local growing conditions. It is estimated that 70% of our global seed diversity is found in Asia alone, making it crucial to identify ways to conserve these seeds and their viability for future generations.
1. What are seeds?
Seeds are a very important part of agriculture. They help farmers grow crops to feed their communities. And in the developing world, seeds make up one-third of national food supplies. Plant breeders need to meet development needs by developing new varieties for local growing conditions that are resilient to environmental stresses.
Every seed has the potential to be a food crop. Farmers can grow crops using the same type of seed year after year because they produce plants that have desirable traits, like high nutrient content or resistance to disease and drought. That is because plant breeder’s select specific plants with desired traits through a process called plant breeding and then save those seeds (called “seed saving”) for future use.
There are two types of plant breeding: open-pollination and closed-pollination (a form of genetic engineering).
Open pollination is when breeders allow pollen from male flowers on one plant to fertilize female flowers on another plant, creating offspring with the same traits as the parent plants but different from others in a population.
Closed pollination is when breeders take male pollen from one plant and apply it directly onto female flowers on another plant, which prevents any other plants from flowering on that day so that the breeder can harvest seeds without competition for the next generation of parents.
2. The Scope of Plant Breeding and Genetics in Pakistan
Pakistan is a fast-growing country with an increasing demand for quality food, and the agricultural sector is one of the most promising avenues to create jobs and reduce poverty. But this hope has been threatened by a lack of awareness, coupled with environmental stresses like climate change and a lack of research in plant breeding. In Pakistan, there are over 20,000 species of plants that are related to crops, but only a small fraction of these have been cultivated or studied.
At present, there are only two crop research centers in Pakistan. The other three research centers that exist are not dedicated to crops and instead focus on livestock. This is where knowledge gaps can become dangerous as it threatens much needed job creation and access to nutritious food for all Pakistanis.
There are many ways to define plant breeding and genetics, but the simplest description is that it is the process of transferring desired traits from one organism to another. Plant breeders introduce genetic material from other plants or even wild species into a new variety in order to produce desired traits like high yield or drought resistance.
4. Status of plant breeding and genetics in Pakistan
The scope of plant breeding and genetics in Pakistan is expanding as more researchers explore this field. Plant breeders in Pakistan are working to address the environmental challenges faced by crops in developing countries. These challenges include changes in climate, natural disasters, and degraded soils. In order to combat these problems, plant breeders need to develop new varieties for local growing conditions. Plant breeding also provides a promising option for addressing the food security concerns of Pakistani farmers who currently rely on imports from other countries or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for their crop production needs.
Pakistani plant breeding is starting to look at how genes work together, not just individually. By understanding how gene interactions work, plant breeders can create more sustainable varieties that have increased resilience against pests and diseases. This information can be used to help maintain crop diversity and promote sustainability.
There are many different approaches to plant breeding in Pakistan that vary depending on location and resources available; however, one thing is clear: Pakistani scientists will continue to explore ways to improve agricultural practices with the goal of food security in mind.
5. Challenges of plant breeding and genetics in Pakistan
In Pakistan, the scope of plant breeding and genetics is limited by a number of challenges. One challenge is the lack of public investment in research and development. This has led to a lack of innovation in agriculture and farming practices. The government also has not invested in agricultural research or development programs which would allow for the transfer of knowledge from research institutions to the local level.
Another challenge is the privatization and monopolization of seeds by multinational corporations. Local farmers are unable to access new seed varieties that could increase productivity and yield, as they are too expensive for them to afford. Farmers are therefore forced to cultivate genetically-similar crops, putting their livelihoods at risk as these crops may be more vulnerable to pests and diseases.
The last challenge I will touch on is that many universities do not provide training in plant breeding and genetics, leading to an education gap which makes it difficult for Pakistanis to enter these fields once they graduate from college. As a result, there is a shortage of skilled professionals who can implement breeding programs in this region.
Pakistan is blessed with a diverse flora and fauna, which has potential for significant contribution to food and feed security, as well as for the production of pharmaceuticals and other commercial products. However, the lack of systematic research in plant breeding and genetics has prevented the full potential from being realized. Pakistan has a Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, which is responsible for research on crops for food and feed production. Similarly, the National Biodiversity Council (NBC) is responsible for conservation and sustainable use of Pakistan’s biodiversity. The NBC is involved in the conservation of seeds, which is an important component of the country’s biodiversity.
The 1980s saw the emergence of a seed industry in Pakistan. This came about because private sector companies started selling seed to farmers. The government’s role in breeding seeds was limited to crop extension services. With the emergence of the seed industry, private sector companies also became involved in breeding seeds. This led to indiscriminate development of new varieties