Chinese Maize-soybean strip intercropping technology best for Pakistan: Yang Wenyu

BEIJING, November 8 (INP): Based on Chinese research, at present, if Pakistan wants to develop soybean production, adopting maize-soybean strip intercropping technology would be the best of all viable alternatives,” maize-soybean strip intercropping study leader Professor Yang Wenyu of Sichuan Agricultural University told China Economic Net (CEN).
According to a CEN’s report, recently Chinese agricultural technology called ‘maize-soybean strip intercropping’ got funds from Pakistani research boards and institutions for its future large-scale promotion in Pakistan, exhibiting the country’s determination and vision to revitalize soybean production and to safeguard food security in a practical way.

Soybean, a profitable crop that seems to have been forgotten in Pakistan for years, via China-Pakistan agricultural cooperation, is now getting the opportunity to glitter in the country again.

Soybean, known as ‘meat that grows on plant’, contains 40-42% good quality protein and 18-22% oil. Today, most of the world’s soybeans are crushed or processed into soybean meal and oil.

About 70% of the soybean’s value comes from the meal. Soybean meal is the premier protein choice for livestock, poultry and aquaculture production globally, and soybean oil is one of the most widely consumed cooking oil and the second most consumed vegetable oil worldwide.

Generally assumed originating from China, soybean now is cultivated well and widely across the globe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in MY 2019/20, world soybean production reached 337.30 MMT.

Though world soybean production keeps ascending, local soybean production in Pakistan is still negligible, which is at a risk of food insecurity. The USDA data shows that in MY 2019/20 Pakistan’s soybean production is only about 2000 metric tons (MT).

With the development and modernization of poultry and dairy sectors in Pakistan, the country’s demand for soybeans has seen strong growth. However, due to lack of the capacity for self-production, Pakistan overwhelmingly relies on imports to meet the increasing demand.

Soybean crops were introduced to Pakistan in the 1960s and the commercial cultivation began in 1970-71. Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and Provincial Research Institutes in 1977-78 carried out research and eight soybean varieties were developed.

During the 1990s, the area under soybean cultivation once touched the highest point at 6,613 hectares, then declined sharply to few hectares without any increase in the following years till today.

Based on various research studies, soybean production and commercialization in Pakistan is hindered by the unavailability of high-yielding, climate-ready and pest-resistant varieties, absence of latest production technologies, skills and knowledge, lack of machinery and insufficiency of marketing of produce and its by-products.

Despite challenges, there is huge potential to tap the local soybean production in Pakistan. Soybean crops can be incorporated in existing spring as well as summer pattern.
There are various crop rotation combination and intercropping systems. Especially under intercropping technology, farmers can grow soybeans without curbing the cultivation area of existing crops like maize, sugarcane, corn, etc.
This technology makes better use of available space to increase the amount of crops that can be harvested on the same area of land as soybean production is like an added ‘bonus’.
As the ‘all-weather strategic partner’ to Pakistan, China is lending a hand in stimulating Pakistan’s soybean production via introducing the advanced maize-soybean intercropping technology to Pakistan from Sichuan Agricultural University.
Included in China’s ‘No. 1 Central Document’ of top-priority by CPC Central Committee and the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, this mature technology has been applied to 4.76 million hectares of land in 19 Chinese provinces and created new economic benefits of RMB 24.5 billion, the report added.