Dr Muhammad Ijaz Tabassum - Chief minister, Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has taken very a right decision to establish new sub-department on sugarcane with the title of Sugarcane Research & Development Board (SRDB) for accelerating the research and development activities in the province.

No doubt, sugarcane crop is a source of profound employment at the farm, factory and business community for more than 6 million. By inducting SRDB in the government system, it opens new vistas of research.

With 1.129 million hectares, Pakistan is one of the fourth largest cane  growing country of the world and ranks fifth in cane production on global level. But in cane yields we are much below the world average. The existing quandary of un-matching cane and sugar prices is mainly due to low sugar recoveries obtained by our sugar mills.

We have the potential of high cane and sugar yields, but no one paid attention to this national crisis. Sixty eight years have passed during which we raised our sugar industry from one small unit to eighty five factories of huge capacities, but with least attention to production of quality raw material at economic costs.

Researchers have been inviting the attention of the government and the industry to strengthen cane breeding and cane development work, but our nation could not pinpoint the priorities in sugarcane discipline.

The talents in agriculture are lying in the excellent horizon in the country, but presently, the potential of officials in the public sector truly speaking is not up to the mark due to poor service structure and salary packages in agriculture as compare to academics institutions, eventually brain drains occurred in the country. Most of the Agrarians flew to Canada and other European countries for a better livelihood. 

In this scenario, Chief Minister Punjab, Shabaz Shriff had the dream to make the province as sugar bowl of the country by establishing a separate R & D department to accelerate the speed of research in agriculture by providing attractive salary packages to the sugarcane scientists as compared to the existing one. He also knows the significance of agriculture as a backbone of the economic development of the country. For this, he thought a lot; when passions are true, sentiments are sparkling, and then destination comes at once in front of the people like a stretching rubber.

Among many people with having diverse and dynamic caliber, the chief minister appointed Nauman Ahmad Khan as pioneer chairman of the SRDB during late year of 2014.

Mr. Nauman Ahmad Khan is not only foreign qualified, true and sincere Pakistani, but he was born in the shadows of sugarcane crop. He knows each and every step and requirements to groom the sugarcane crop in the country. He knows the significance of fuzz, a true seed of sugarcane, and importance of cane varieties to match the economic cost both for growers and sugar industry.

He is well aware of the products and by-products of the crop, as he visited to cane growing countries like Brazil, Australia, America, Sri Lanka, Mauricio’s  and south Africa  several times.

He has an eye on all disciplines of sugarcane and sugar beet. By interaction with Nauman Ahmad Khan, nice gesture appeared from him for the country. Although he had golden spoon lying with him but physically he worked a lot in the field of sugarcane.

Like butter fly, he flew to every corners of the world to take the fragrance of sugarcane and come back to his nest for making the honey of sugarcane in the country. According to him, dream is not that we see in our sleeping, further he added dream is that by which one cannot sleep. Pakistan has the potential to lead and guide the small cane growing countries of the world.

It was this basic reason that the sugarcane scientists, researchers, progressive farmers, sugar mills’ staff and sugar mills owners appreciated CM’s efforts for approving the appointment of Nauman  Ahmad Khan as pioneer chairman of Sugarcane Research & Development Board, Government of Punjab. Now, Nauman Ahmad Khan, with his teammates, like Secretary Agriculture, Vice chancellor University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Director General Agri. (Research), two members of Provincial Assembly, two well-known progressive farmers and some people of management has the desire to select a person of global experience to run the research in various discipline of cane breeding, agronomy, irrigation and nutritional requirements of the crop, plant protection and sugar technology.

 It was the luck of our nation that after having taken many interviews of the sugarcane experts for appointing Chief Executive Officer, Nauman Ahmad Khan and his team selected Dr. Summan Suritall.

Dr. Summan Suritall is a well-known sugarcane scientist and famous as a man of commitment in the world. He was conducting sugarcane programme in Mauricio’s and was living very luxurious life there. He knows each and every step to enhance cane and sugar productivity in the country. Furthermore, by his continuous efforts, he seemed to be one of the authorities of sugarcane in the international community.

Now, Dr. Summan came to Pakistan with full of enthusiasm, eagerness, fervor and vehemence after leaving his luxury life , spouse, family and accommodation comprising of one and half acre of residence in Mauricio’s just to elevate the status of Pakistan in sugarcane.

Up till now, Sugarcane Research & Development Board, Government of Punjab, made efforts to disseminate knowledge to get more productivity at the doorsteps of farmers. For this, SRDB held a number of awareness seminars, and Kisan melas in various districts of the province for sugarcane growers in coordination with Sugarcane Research Institute, Faisalabad, during March, 2015.

About two hundred farmers learned different operations in each seminar regarding packages of technology on the spot. Two-day’ workshop on sugarcane insects/pest and their managements was also arranged with the collaboration of Entomological Research Institute, Faisalabad for the sugar mills’ staff and farmers of the province during September, 2015.

The SRDB has fixed a cane yield target from 63 to 80 tons per hectare and sugar recovery from 9.97 to 11.00% to be achieved during coming 5 years in Punjab. If the Board achieves the target within the specific time, then the dream of the chief minister, Punjab to make the province sugar bowl of the country may be fulfilled.

People, after seeing the vertical pace of research activities going on sugarcane crop in the province, have the rights to ask Chief Minister, Punjab to establish Board on sugarcane is yet not enough, why the Boards on other crops like wheat, cotton, rice, maize etc.  are not establishing…! If it occurs so, then nobody will create any speed breaker for the province to become grain house along with sugar bowl of Pakistan.