Hybrid rice seeds cause concern among growers.
For more than 10 years the farmers are using hybrid seeds in lower Sindh mainly due to low temperatures favoring its cultivation. Hybrid seeds are reported to provide more per acre yield as compared to local coarse seeds. On the other hand, it has been argued that hybrid seeds are of low quality compared to local variety due to which Pakistani rice loses ground in terms of prices in international market. This higher yield of hybrid seed has also led to a decrease in acreage of cotton cultivation in the lower region. The growers prefer rice over cotton. Water shortage during early Kharif affects cotton is another reason since farmers can easily wait for late sowing of hybrid varieties.
Chinese hybrid per acre yield is reported to be around 70 maunds as against 50 to 55 maunds of original seed. However, according to progressive farmers hybrid seed requires a lot of fertilizer and is even gradually becoming vulnerable to pest attack.
The hybrid seeds are also far more expensive and according to growers, 1Kg of hybrid seed is sold for Rs 1,000 and a maund of local seed for Rs 50 per kg. However, while around 18 to 20 kgs of local seed is required for an acre of land compared to only 7 kgs of hybrid seeds needed to cover the same area.
According to Nabi Bux Sathio, General Secretary Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA), "We usually don't have to use a lot of DAP fertiliser and other inputs for the local variety. We do have to use more seed to an acre as compared to hybrid because local seed has some germination problem, but this can be controlled through genetic modification through research.
Rice botanist Gulshan Lal Oad at Dokri Rice Research Institute, Government of Pakistan say that the potential yield of original seed varieties like IR6, DR92 and DR82 is around 75 maunds. While hybrid rice cannot be used as seed from one year to the next, farmers have to buy fresh stock, whereas the local variety can be used as seed again.