Rice research center opens at the ICCBS-Karachi University

KARACHI- The Vice Chancellor of the University of Karachi Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ajmal Khan inaugurated the Sino-Pakistan Hybrid Rice Research Center (SPHRRC) at the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi on July 26th, 2017.

The curtain opening ceremony was well attended by ICCBS Patron-in-Chief and former Chairman Higher Education Commission Pakistan Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, His Excellency Wang Yu, Consul General of China in Karachi, Director General China National Rice Research Institute (CNRRI) of Hangzhou – China, Prof. Dr. Cheng Shihua, and Director ICCBS Prof. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary.

It was learnt at the event that the Sino-Pakistan center had been setup at the cost of Rs.150 million in the premises of the research establishment of ICCBS. The research center has state-of-the-art research facilities, including NMR Spectroscopes, Plant Tissue Culture Technology, genomics, and greenhouses etc. The Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair who had earlier consented to be the chief guest in the opening ceremony could not attend the event, due to an emergency meeting.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of SPHRRC, held at the Prof. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui Auditorium, ICCBS, the University Vice Chancellor Dr. Ajmal Khan said that Pakistan needed to make a massive investment in science & technology for a long period to achieve the goal of desired progress. Substantial development of any country is associated with the true commitment of its leadership and enormous investment, he maintained.

‘China is an excellent example, which made an unbelievable progress in a limited period of time’, Dr. Khan further said, adding that true promise and vision of the Chinese leadership, and huge investment got China on the top among the developed countries.

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Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman in his speech said that Pakistan has 100 million young people (below the age of 20) in her total population, which needs to be educated and trained. He pointed out that natural resources have lost their importance and been replaced by quality human resources that contribute towards high-tech industrial development. Talking about the drastic cut in the higher education budget, he said that the Finance Ministry has slashed the development budget of all universities of Pakistan by more than 60 per cent. He said the government has left the universities of Pakistan in a shocking state of disarray by reducing the budget. He observed that for any country, there were four pillars of progress, including high quality education, science & Technology, innovation & entrepreneurship, and vision & strategy of leadership.

The Chinese Consul General said that Pakistan was famous for its high quality rice, whereas China was great importer of high quality Pakistani rice. Talking about the hybrid rice center, he said that ICCBS owned highly qualified scholars and state-of-the-art research equipment. He said the opening of this research center was a very significant event, which showed the deep roots of Pak-China bilateral relations.

Prof. Iqbal Choudhary said that today’s event was another landmark in the long and exemplary relationship between the two neighboring countries. The SPHRRC will work on the development of novel varieties of rice by using state-of-the-art hybrid and genetic technologies, he said, adding that Pakistan was among the largest producers of rice in the world. However, despite its tremendous potential, the export of Pakistani rice has decreased over the years due to low yields, and high cost of production, he added. The biggest challenge is to increase the production of high quality rice for the local and foreign market; through this new center, the ICCBS and CNRRI intend to contribute in this field of strategic importance, he informed.

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Prof. Cheng Shihua said that Pakistan was an important strategic partner of China; the two countries kept a traditional, long-term friendship in the past 50 years. He pointed out that food security is a common issue for both countries. Pakistan’s local rice varieties possess exceptional grain size, taste and aroma; through collaboration with advanced technology of China more new rice varieties will also be developed, he added. Dean Faculty of Sciences Prof. Dr. Tasneem Adam Ali also attended the ceremony.

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