Pakistan: Great Potential to Develop Durum Wheat


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In response to rapidly changing food preferences in Pakistan, including a latent unmet demand for pasta products, CIMMYT-Pakistan (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) has been working to develop the country’s Durum Wheat market and varieties that satisfy the required grain quality attributes, in addition to high yields and disease resistance.

Due to rapid urbanization, demand for Durum Wheat products like macaroni or spaghetti is rising in Pakistan. But farmers are not growing Durum Wheat because there is no clear price advantage or assured markets. At the same time, private investors will not develop new milling facilities or markets without farmers’ guarantees of Durum Wheat grain supplies.

To help break the impasse, CIMMYT has tested and evaluated 925 Durum Wheat lines in Pakistan since 2011 and identified 40 Durum Wheat lines as having appropriate combinations of high yield, protein, yellowness, and sedimentation combinations. The yield stability of lines across locations and years indicates that Durum Wheat could be grown in environments similar to the trial sites, increasing the chances for uptake of this new crop. “One challenge, though,” said Krishna Dev Joshi, CIMMYT Wheat improvement specialist, “is that Durum yields were only slightly higher than those of bread Wheat, posing a challenge for the uptake by farmers of Durum Wheat.”

Durum Wheat Survey in Pakistan

The Center also led a 2014 Durum value chain study involving 85 respondents, including farmers, millers, the processing industry, restaurants, seed companies, grain dealers, and consumers across five locations. They were queried regarding their awareness of Durum Wheat, as well as its production, usage, and prospects in Pakistan. “A complete lack of Durum milling technology is the main obstacle to commercializing this crop,” Joshi said.

Value chain actors were only marginally aware of Durum Wheat and associated technologies. However, 60% of millers stated they would be willing to invest in Durum Wheat if it became an openly-traded commodity, policies fostered market price premiums, Durum milling machinery could be acquired at subsidized rates, and local and foreign manufacturers were linked.

An overwhelming majority (70 percent) of seed companies pointed to unawareness and unavailability of Durum seed as driving factors for the non-existence of Durum seed in the market. However, a sizeable proportion (63 percent) of seed companies showed good gestures for going into the Durum seed business. The seed companies’ representatives pointed out Durum marketability (50 percent) and yield potential (27 percent) as significant constraints in Durum Wheat adoption.

Of the total interviewed farmers, 32 percent are aware of Durum Wheat, and all cultivated it on a small scale. On average, the Durum growers cultivated Durum Wheat on 6 acres of land and obtained an average yield of 57 maunds per acre. Interestingly more than two third (77 percent) of the farmers consented to cultivate Durum Wheat subject to free seed and training with a guaranteed market for Durum Wheat grain. At the same time, a scanty proportion of farmers (23 percent) looks for some subsidy in inputs (fertilizers) as well.

Many (80 percent) dealers reported dealing in certified seed businesses from local seed companies. None of them have any information about Durum Wheat. They, however, consented to sell Durum Wheat subject to the supply of certified seed from a well-reputed seed company. Of the total five visited food processing industries, four were found to be well aware of Durum Wheat and showed deep interest in the domestic development of Durum Wheat.

Most of the consumers (73 percent) are found unaware of Durum Wheat, whereas slightly more than one-fourth (27 percent) reportedly have some knowledge and information about Durum Wheat. A vibrant majority (64 percent) are found less conscious about the attractive color and high protein contents of Durum pasta.

Other sources: CIMMYT

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