Maize is the 3rd important cereal crop after wheat and rice in Pakistan. It has covered 1.14 million ha area in Pakistan according to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) in 2013. Maize cultivation trend is now increasing and projected to increase in future. According to a report, Punjab contributes 38 per cent with 30 per cent total grain production. KPK (Khyber pakhtunkhwa) accounts for 57 per cent of total area and 68 per cent of total production. Though not included in Pakistan statistics maize is an important crop of AJK (Azad Jammu and Kashmir) with 0.122 million hectare being planted during kharif season.

The field is a complex environment with many factors that can interact to influence the growth of a maize plant. These factors can be in the form of insects, diseases, nematodes and weeds (biotic) or there can be factors such as weather, nutrients or chemicals (abiotic).

Under optimum conditions, production of field maize can exceed over 200 bushels of maize per acre; under totally unfavorable conditions, every maize plant can die.

Pakistan has less number of maize hybrids due to scarce in maize germplasm. The country representative of CIMMYT (Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo) Dr. M. Imtiaz emphasizes that 27000 maize accessions are available at CIMMYT placid all over the world but in Pakistan unfortunately lack of germplasm resources, stress tolerant varieties and bio-fortification specialty in Pakistan maize. He suggested that we should have to increase germplasm resources and focus on bio-fortification food which becomes the world most serious issue due to increase in food prices about 100 percent in Pakistan, people have to borrow money to meet their day-to-day needs.

CIMMYT is now a days trying to enhance the maize productivity and also to promote excellence in Pakistan. Dr. Abdur Rehman Bashir, Maize improvement specialist from CIMMYT, argued that there is high potential demand for certified seed because current seed supply is less than 40 per cent. So Pakistan has to import maize seed from different countries. In Pakistan during 1993-2013, a total of 16 varieties were developed by NARC (National Agriculture Research Centre), out of which six were hybrid. India has developed 64 hybrids till 2013. In South Africa more than 400 varieties of maize have been developed till March 2013. Dr. Abdur Rehman Bashir suggested that squeeze planting is a useful technique in which keeping narrow distance in male and female plant to increase the per acre yield. Public and private partnership is now playing a developmental role in maize production. Dr. Khalid Aziz Manager Maize Production from Rafhan Maize products discussed that Maize is a native plant derived from Maxico (South America) since thousand years ago during the course of evolution. He mentioned that early times in Chiniot district has only few acres were covered by maize but in recent scenario about 40,000 acres are roofed by maize growers. He stressed that Pakistan has to increase maize production by 2020 because requirement of maize food will increase as compared to wheat and rice as an essential part of all synthetic food available in market now a days. He also suggested that there must be collaboration between public, private sector and university departments.

Pakistans research institutes engaged with maize breeding are trying to develop heat tolerant hybrids which become the part of commercial market in coming era. Saleem-ur-Rehman from MMRI (Maize and Millet Research Institute) Sahiwal illustrated that breeders are trying to develop heat tolerance hybrid of maize because of 0.50C rise in temperature every year in Pakistan.

Dr. M. Ashraf suggested that we should have to take serious steps for increasing the maize production.

Maize silage can be used for poultry feed is a hopping step to increase the meat requirement in Pakistan.

Proper agronomic practices can decrease the production losses. Zulqarnain Haider from ICI Pakistan suggested that farmers can get bumper crop by adequate application of fertilizer which is 80-100 kg Nitrogen, 50-80 kg Potash and 46 kg Phosphorus. There should be proper polythene sheeting before spreading the maize cobs on floor otherwise it absorb moisture from soil which becomes the source of aflotoxin.

Tissue culturing has decreased the time of inbred line development which is more suitable than conventional breeding. Umar Sardar, Manager Research and Development Four Brothers Group Pakistan, comprehensively described the double haploid maize production. He said that 100 per cent purity can be achieved by double haploid technique which is impossible through conventional breeding.

We should have to exchange germplasm from CIMMYT for our maize crop improvement. Due to increase in temperature and water shortage, breeders should have to develop hybrids more tolerant against heat and drought. There should be cooperation between public and private sector and also students from different agriculture universities to become the part of their research projects.

The writers are associated from the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

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