Food Security is a global challenge and in order to feed the ever-growing global population (expected to be 10 billion in 2050), the use of modern technique like genomics, biotechnology and speed breeding in agriculture is inevitable. Next Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS) is pre-requisite for genomics to be implemented in agriculture. This was said by Syed Fakhar Imam Federal Minister for M/o National Food Security & Research on the occasion of One Day Seminar on “Next Generation DNA Sequencing & Inauguration of NGS Lab” at National Institute for Genomics and Advanced Biotechnology at NARC, Islamabad. Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali Chairman PARC and other scientists / researchers attended the ceremony. Addressing the audiences, Minister said that installation of NGS facility at NIGAB is a paradigm shift towards eliciting use of the modern genomic techniques in agricultural productivity enhancement in Pakistan. He lauded the efforts of Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali in establishing state of the art National Institute for Genomics and Advanced Biotechnology (NIGAB).
Minister emphasized the need to adopt modern breeding techniques for per acre yield increase of Pakistani crop such as sugarcane, wheat, maize, rice and cotton. He gave an overview of agricultural progress made by neighboring countries specifically China. Over the years China has made a tremendous progress in establishing genomics and biotechnology-based breeding institutes. Unfortunately, Pakistan is lagging behind in adopting modern breeding. It is the need of the hour to show commitment with assigned work and with the country as well. He was of the view that in order to harness the true benefits of genomics and biotechnology in agriculture, training of scientists at world famous institutes is also desirable. He advised the students and researchers to get trainings from international institutes from China and other countries which have developed advanced breeding techniques, for the uplift of Pakistani institutes in these techniques. The good quality and scientifically skillful human resource is the key to success. While adding his remarks, Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali Chairman PARC told that NGS will significantly contribute the uplift of agricultural biotechnology and genomics through genomic selection and genome based breeding by design approaches. The Chairman was also of the view that this platform will facilitate in many aspects of modern biotechnology and genomics research in agriculture such as production of transgene-free crops, genome-based breeding by design in crops, genomic selection and varieties development, off-targets in CRISPR/Cas-edited crops, GWAS-based discovery of new genes, GBS-based DNA fingerprinting for variety approval at FSC&RD purity detection, certification for IPR, raising of certified plant nurseries and selection of elite milk and meat breeds of livestock sector in Pakistan. Next Generation DNA Sequencing lab will not only provide NGS services to Pakistan but also to the neighboring countries on sustainable basis. Furthermore, it will strengthen our research with China. In the seminar, eminent scientists also shared their findings on DNA sequencing platforms and their applications in agriculture.