December 2014: Former scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and winner of World Food Prize, Surinder Kumar Vasal has said that there is a need for advancement of hybrid technology for improving agricultural productivity so as to meet increasing demand for food grains globally.
Vasal said this while delivering the First Foundation Day Lecture at University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur (UAS-R) recently on hybrid maize technology: its continuing evolution and perspective vision for the 21st century.
“With the global population estimated to increase from 7.2 billion to 8 billion by 2021, the agriculture sector across the world would have to face a new challenge of meeting increased demand for food grains.
“It is possible with the multiplying productivity by undertaking intense research and innovations in hybrid technology,” Dr Vasal stressed.
He emphasised on the need to direct the advancement of hybrid technology towards addressing current and future climatological effects on agricultural productivity.
Stressing a need for a strong, diverse and robust inbred base germplasm is the key to address such challenges, Dr Vasal said: “Concern for climate change is real and in more recent years we are experiencing extremes of weather conditions.”
“Adopting crops to climate change is thus important and necessary investments must be made now to mitigate the challenges arising out of this change. Hybrid technology has the firepower to make rapid advances in this direction.”
Dr Vasal pointed out that the significant advancement of hybrid maize technology in the 20th century had enabled both developed and developing world dramatically increase maize productivity.
He called upon hybrid breeders for introducing new strategies and tactics on a continuous basis to achieve goals in both hybrid performance and improving economics of hybrid maize seed production, the two prerequisites for successful commercialisation of any hybrid.
Pointing at the potentiality of maize, Dr Vasal said: “Maize is the perhaps one of a few crops offering so many options in the production of a wide variety of maize hybrids. Besides, a wide range of progenitors can be used in forming hybrids of both conventional and non-conventional types.”