Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman has encouraged local soybean production to reduce the increasing import costs in a recent meeting with Professor Dr Athar Mahboob, Vice Chancellor of the Islamia University of Bahawalpur (IUB) and Muhammad Ali Raza, Director of National Research Centre for Intercropping, IUB and post-doc of Sichuan Agricultural University (SAU).

The governor appreciated IUB’s efforts for promoting soybean-related intercropping technology in Pakistan and expressed willingness to invest more in this area in view of the country’s overreliance on imports for soybean supplies.

The governor encouraged both the IUB VC and director of National Research Centre to make more efforts for boosting local soybean cultivation with the intercropping technology.

Maize-soybean strip intercropping technology was introduced by SAU in Pakistan in 2018. This advanced Chinese technology makes better use of available space to increase the amount of crops that can be harvested on the same area of land.

Soybean production is like an added ‘bonus’, which has been helping Pakistan ease its shortage and cut down imports since four years ago.

This season, the total demonstrative area of maize-soybean strip intercropping technology has surged to over 400 acres, about 2.67 times that of last autumn.

Besides, more types of crops are being included in the intercropping system including wheat-soybean and sugarcane-soybean intercropping. Now, harvesting is going on in the demonstration plots, which is expected to achieve promising results soon.

“Last season, more than 200 farmers have used our technology, and the number is still rising day by day. Farmers are quite satisfied with the results. They are contacting us and want to adopt the technology on more land,” Ali Raza told CEN.

Pakistani agricultural experts visit the demonstration site of maize-soybean strip intercropping technology at the National Research Centre of Intercropping (NRCI).

This season, a new intercropping-specific soybean line has been developed by Raza and Dr Zaheer Ahmed, In charge of Soybean Lab at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. It has been learnt that the new soybean line can easily produce 480 to 720 kg per acre in the intercropping system, while the production of other soybean varieties only stagnates in the range of 200 to 400 kg per acre.

The newly developed soybean line specifically for intercropping is full of pods in the demonstration plots.



Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2022.

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