The spice of life

The spice of life

The spice of life

LAHORE: After successful launch of hybrid coarse rice and field trials of hybrid basmati, Guard Agriculture Research and Services has developed hybrid wheat seed having potential of increasing yield by 40 per cent, compared with the conventional varieties.

“Guard is the pioneer in introducing hybrid coarse rice. In collaboration with the Chinese scientists, we developed hybrid basmati rice having better per acre yield. The seed is on trial and is likely to reach growers in the next three years,” said Shahzad Ali Malik, chief executive officer of Guard Agriculture Research and Services, and director of Guard Group of Companies.

“After six years of research, we have developed a hybrid wheat seed having 40 per cent more per acre yield than the conventional varieties. With the collaboration of Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, we are working to increase the per acre yield at least by 80 per cent. Hopefully, the growers will get high yield wheat seed within four years,” he added.

Malik said that Guard was also working on developing a hybrid seed for cotton to attract farmers back to sowing of the cash crop and to help minimise imports for the textile sector.

The Guard Agriculture Research and Services, a multi-billion-rupee enterprise, deals in a variety of businesses such as auto parts, lubricants, brake oil, auto zone, agriculture equipment, research and marketing of seeds and rice.


Malik has played a key role in bringing the hybrid coarse varieties in Pakistan that helped increase the per acre yield of rice in Sindh and South Punjab.

With the collaboration of the Yuan Longping High Tech Agriculture Company, Guard initiated research for bringing hybrid basmati variety.

In 2013, Malik received the prestigious Sitara-e-Imtiaz Award in recognition of his research work in the field of hybrid seed technology.

Having an interest in business politics, he has served as the president and vice president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He was also the founding chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan and Seed Association of Pakistan. He is all set to become a chairman of the Pakistan High Tech Hybrid Seed Association.

The following are the excerpts of an informal tête-à-tête with him:


 What was your first business venture?

I am in business since my college days. I used to go to the family-owned Malik Auto Store daily after 2:00pm. After my father founded Guard Agri, I started overseeing the import and marketing of the agricultural equipment. After facing financial losses due to a lack of acceptance for the machinery, we focused on research for the development of rice seed varieties.

 Guard’s achievements in agriculture sector?

Guard focused on research, despite facing initial losses. We don’t believe in reverse engineering, but proper research and development. We introduced hybrid coarse varieties that brought a revolution in the lives of the paddy growers in Sindh and South Punjab. This initiative helped alleviate poverty in the rural areas and increased exports of rice. We are now exporting hybrid seeds to the Philippines, the country hosting the International Rice Research Institute.

I got the honour of receiving the prestigious Sitara-e-Imtiaz Award for my research work, which is aimed at improving the rice yield.

 What are the contributions of Yuan Longping to paddy growers in Pakistan?


The father of the hybrid rice impressed me in the first meeting. A soft-spoken, humble and down-to-earth plant scientist, he played a pivotal role in raising food security and reducing the global hunger by producing hybrid seed varieties. He deserves credit for bringing a revolution in the lives of the paddy growers through high yielding hybrid rice seeds. Enhanced production has helped increase the rice exports. Now Guard is also exporting hybrid rice seeds.

 Is there any threat of invasion by the hybrid coarse rice on the basmati areas?

There is a threat of invasion by the hybrid coarse rice due to higher yield, and as such, more income for the growers. Our research is aimed at avoiding such scenarios in the core basmati grown areas. The hybrid seed of basmati has given encouraging results. It is put on field trials and the same will be available for cultivation in the next three years.

Extra-long grain hybrid variety with an average grain length of 8.2mm has given more than 70 maunds/acre yield. The present non-hybrid basmati varieties are not producing more than 35 maunds to 40 maunds/acre. Two more basmati seeds had also been chosen for two-year field trials. These two varieties are 8.2mm and 8.3mm of average grain length having the potential of giving 80 to 90 maunds/acre yield. Both these varieties could be available for cultivation just one year after the commercial marketing of the first one.

What about traditional basmati aroma in the hybrid variety?

There is an aroma in the new variety, though not that much, compared with the present non-hybrid varieties. To get a specific traditional fragrance, you need to boil rice. People prefer extra-long grains of non-sticky rice for biryani and pulao.


Does hybrid seeds need more water than traditional varieties?

The situation is entirely opposite. The gap between the sowing and harvesting of traditional varieties is 120 days. For the hybrid rice, it is 90 to 100 days. As such, you need less water, while cultivating hybrid rice.

Your take on the imposition of GST on import of seeds?

The decision will hurt hybridisation on a large scale. However, it will also encourage local seed production and technology transfer to Pakistan. India has completely banned import of all seeds.

What is your opinion about adopting GMO crops?

We are already growing BT cotton. Guard is working to introduce disease and pest resistant BT cotton variety. But I am not in favour of allowing GMO in export-oriented food crops. For instance, GMO will hurt our rice exports to Europe and the Middle East.


What inspires you to join business politics?

I entered business politics to make my experience and expertise productive for my community. I desired to get into the process of policymaking for benefitting my community.

What can make the business environment easy and encouraging?

The business environment is tough, both for the new entrants and the existing players. Uncertainty, expensive energy and multiple taxes are major hurdles.

There is a need for practical measures to reduce input costs. The government should reduce taxes on the import of raw materials and machinery for expanding the capacity of industries. The new entrants should be given proper guidance through one-window facility and tax exemptions.

What is the future outlook of the overall business environment in Pakistan?


The entire focus of the government is on large-scale manufacturing and that too only the textile sector. Agriculture, engineering and services sectors also need government’s attention. The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the cottage industry should be supported, as these are always the backbone of any economy.

How do you take part in public welfare?

We contribute to the public welfare, both in organised and informal ways. Guard is managing two state-of-the-art hospitals named after my mother and grandmother. We are always ready to help employees and people in need. We focus on the education of the children of our employees.

Also Read

Hybrid seeds availability in next two to three years
Hybrid seeds availability in next two to three years

Growers of the basmati rice are likely to get the much-awaited hybrid...

Read More News On

Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Event and Latest News Updates on The BOL News

Download The BOL News App to get the Daily News Update & Follow us on Google News.

End of Article

Next Story