Table of Contents
Nurseries in public sector
In Pakistan, there are 1,115 nurseries’ with a total area of 1,304 hectares maintained by the Forest departments at sub national level. These nurseries produce multiple species in a variety of ecological zone and fulfil 10-90 percent of the demand for planting stock in the provinces. The rest is procured from private nurseries. Figures 5.1 and 5.2 summarize this data. The following sections provide situation in different provinces9.
Punjab has overall 244 nurseries including 174 hectares bed nursery and 251 million tube plants production capacity. Overall share of private nurseries in supplying planting material in the province is above 30%. The private nurseries mainly meet the demand of private sector in addition to supplying for to the government. The forest department procures nearly 5-10% plants from private nurseries.
In the year 2020 however, the department did not purchase any plants from private nurseries because the department had enough production in forest nurseries. The department planted 147 million plants in 2020. In addition, 64.730 million plants were distributed to others (including communities, individuals, other government departments, private organizations, and N(iOs.
In the past when forest management was exclusively guided by working plans, the staff used to manage the seeds as per requirement in the working plan and public demand. This demand was ascertained based on previous years’ demand for seeds. The seed was usually collected from good quality stands by engaging daily labour. Seed used to be fresh with good viability and genetic source. After the working plan was practically abolished, there were no certainty of targets for the next years or seasons. Some of the approved schemes were abruptly discontinued which had implications for the seed collected and maintenance of seed orchards.
Currently, when required, the seed is purchased from local seed sellers in various towns. These sellers are usually not primary collectors. They engage labour or purchase seed from villagers who collect seed from nearby tree stands. This, however, is a very small and erratic business opportunity, therefor, no formal permanent market and quality protocols exist for tree seeds. Quality of seed is usually poor, genetic source is unknown, and supply is not guaranteed. The choice of species is very limited.
Only seed of selected species such as Dalbergia sissoo (Shisham), Acacia nilotica (Kikar), Acacia modesta (Phulai), Albizia lebbeck (Black Siris), Melia azedarach (Bakain), Eucalyptus camaldulensis (Malachi), Bombax ceiba (Simal), Ziziphus mauritiana (Beri), Pinus roxburghii (Chir pine), Pinus wallichiana (Kail), and Aesculus indica (Ban Akhrot). Good quality seed is available in limited quantities. There is no scientific system of seed quality testing at the time of seed purchase. Seed quality is randomly checked manually.
There are no written rules for seed quality and viability; thus, good practices are not consistent and mandatory. In practice, viability above 80% is required for a successful nursery establishment. Theoretically, payments are made to the vendors after conducting viability tests. Viability test results are usually required to be attached for sanction of the bill of the price of seed. Although not very systematic, the department conducts viability tests of seeds purchased before supplying seeds to the nurseries for sowing.
A few seed orchards are from a 1996-2001 initiative under a provincial project. However, these are hardly able to meet the demand of even one forest division. The seed certification system for forest species does not exist in Punjab. Plus, trees have been marked based on phenotypic characteristics throughout Punjab and are recommended for seed collection, but these may hardly meet the demand of even a single forest division. Due to the non-availability of quality genetic material, the quality of plants produced is highly compromised and their genetic source is unknown, consequentially tree crops may lead to genetic degradation.
The Punjab Forestry Research Institute Gatwala is the only forest research facility in Punjab. The research institute does not have facilities for genetic material development and testing. Previously there was a training facility on seed and seedling quality management. After the establishment of the Punjab Forest Service Academy in Murree, this service was shifted from Gatwala to Murree. A training need assessment is being conducted and such training is likely to be resumed and scheduled shortly at the Services Academy.
There are 71 government nurseries in Sindh with an overall area of 85 hectares. The nurseries produce planting material from different tree species and distribute it to different planting schemes and projects (Table 5.1). The department receives about less than 5% of its seeds and seedlings from private nurseries.
Acacia nilotica (Babul) seed is the main requirement of riverine and irrigated forests of Sindh, especially during inundation season. Babul seed is mainly procured from private seed markets existing in Sanghar and Hyderabad districts. The seed is also collected by the department staff directly from the irrigated plantations and riverine forest stands.
Seeds of Conocarpus, Eucalyptus, Neem and other species are obtained from mother trees standing in the vicinity of nurseries. The seed of ornamental plants and fruit species is purchased from private nurseries in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas, and other major cities.
In the Mangrove forests, Avicennia marina is the predominant species (90%) in the coastal region with Rhizophora mucronata (8%), Aegiceras corniculatum (1.5%), and Ceriops tagal (0.5%). Pure mature stands of Avicennia and Rhizophora are found in different creeks and are protected through the watch and ward system of local communities. The seed/propagules are collected regularly from identified locations in the Port Qasim area of Karachi and Keti Bundar areas.
There are about 30 to 40 famous seed dealers in the province in the private sector who deal with the collection and marketing of seed and feed public nurseries. The quality of babul seed is physically checked by putting a measured quantity of seed into water. The estimate of unviable seed is calculated from the percentage of seed floating on top of the water, whereas the viable and healthy seed being heavier submerges in the bottom. There are no seed orchards in the province as such. The pure and mature stands of Avicenna, Rhizophora, and Acacia in a way serve as seed orchards. The filed officers certify the seeds procured from the open market for viability by checking physical characteristics. There is no laboratory to check seed quality. No formal training on seed testing is imparted to the field officers.
Breaking seed dormancy is essential in the case of hard-coated seed of Babul. This is done through an age-old practice of feeding seed pods to goats to obtain viable and ready-to-sow seed from the feces of goats.
Historically there were 20 government nurseries in Balochistan with an overall area of 20 hectares. The nurseries produce planting material to the tune of 1.5 to 2.0 million plants per year from different tree species and distribute them to different planting schemes and projects. More nurseries have been established to fulfill the demand created by the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTAP). Currently, there are
The plant species produced in the nurseries are highly diverse due to the requirements of ecologically diverse regions of the province – temperate in the north to coastal regions in the south. In total, 112 species were grown in the forest nurseries, which is by far the largest number of species raised by any province. The procured plants include board-leaved species of public interest for distribution in public for planting under different schemes.
During 2019-20, 492,327 plants were distributed whereas, in 2020-2021, 1,838,248 plants were distributed to the public from the government nurseries 5.5 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa There are 202 government nurseries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with an overall area of 810.78 hectares of which spring nurseries are raised over an area of 402.94 hectares and monsoon nurseries cover an area of 407.84 hectares (average 405 hectares). The nurseries produce planting material from different tree species which are distributed to different planting schemes and projects (Table 5-3). The department purchases about 20-25% of seeds and seedlings from private nurseries. This includes 2.8% of stock purchased from the established community nurseries supported by the department.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir
There are 492 government nurseries in AJK with an overall area of 363 hectares. Of these 11% area is allocated to the production of tube plants, 38.5% to bare-rooted plants, and the rest of 50.5% produces both tube and bare-rooted plants. Samplings of different tree species are produced in these nurseries and distributed to different planting schemes and projects. The plants produced are given in Table 5.5. The department buys
Nursery raising is a difficult task in GB due to limited cultivable land, shallow and porous soils and limited rainfall. As such, in the need for frequent irrigation channels constructed on mountain slopes require continuous maintenance and repair is a challenging task. Despite these challenging the Forest Department manages 53 nurseries in all over GB with an overall area of 24 hectares (Table 5.7).
However, the department mainly depended on private nurseries for procurement of plants. Demand for seed and seedling varies from year to year. Seeds are also mainly purchased from the private collectors. In 2020-21 nearly 1000 kg of mixed seeds (conifers and broadleaved) and,292,018 plants were purchased from private collectors and nurseries. Plants purchased from the private sector make 91.6% of the total demand for planting stock in GB (Table 5.8).
Plant production through tissue culture
Tissue culture is a technique through which an entire plant can be produced by growing the tissue or cells of a plant on an artificial growth medium necessary for the growth of plant cells away from the parent plant. This method of growing plants is also known as micropropagation. For this purpose, suitable plant cells or tissue are cultured on a solid or semi-solid, or solid growth medium supplemented with suitable plant growth hormones. This technique involves the following stages during the production of a whole plant: Initially, some tissue or cells of the plant are removed from the parent plant and a callus is produced on a Petri plate containing a growth medium .
The plant initiates from the callus which is an undifferentiated mass of plant cells Shooting: for producing shoots a suitable hormone is added in the growth medium which supports cell differentiation into a shoot Rooting: addition of a rooting hormone imitates rooting producing a small plant Finally, the plant can be removed from the growth medium and inoculated on soil Researcher states that in case of tree species plant tissue culture is a very difficult procedure and the process takes longer than nonwoody species. Some commercially important species such as Banana trees and date palms have been successfully grown through tissue culture. The per-plant cost of these plants is much lower than growing in nurseries. Plant tissue culture is beneficial economically especially for plants that take longer to grow under normal environmental conditions. Tissue culture helps mass production and reduces the gestation period. Tissue culture is especially useful for tree species, which can produce only 2-3 baby plants in a year.
Tissue culture facilities in Pakistan
The following tissue culture facilities are available in Pakistan:
✓ International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi University
✓ Department of Botany, University of Peshawar
✓ CCRI Multan
✓ Agriculture Research Centre: Tarnab, Peshawar (also work on woody plants)
✓ National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad
✓ Pakistan Council of Scientific Research (PCSIR)
✓ Private tissue culture labs
✓ University of Balochistan
✓ Faisalabad Agriculture University
✓ Agriculture Research Institute Rawalpindi Unfortunately, none of these facilities works for propagation of forestry plants.
These facilities are meant to support agriculture/horticulture. The research and funding for tissue culture on forest plants are not available.
Some laboratories such as the Department of Genetics at Karachi University, the Department of Botany at the University of Peshawar, and Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI) Multan have started some experiments on tissue and organ culture. Tissue culture in coconut plants, Commiphora wightii (Guggal), and bananas have proven successful at ICCBS in Karachi.
The Tissue culture lab at the Agriculture Research Institute Tarnab in KP was established in the 90s under the supervision of the Research wing of the agriculture department. Research is conducted on potatoes, mushrooms, olives, and bananas supported by projects. Currently, the lab is financed under a project for newly merged districts and carrying potato research.
The lab is producing potato plants for research purposes and not for commercial activities. The researchers claim that potato tissue can be produced commercially if resources are provided. They claimed that production protocols are prepared for potatoes but were not shared for this report.
The researchers at Tarnab lab stated that they can produce and multiply different woody plants through tissue culture. However, this needs facilities and financial resources which are not available. Agriculture Research Institute Rawalpindi has proven success with olive plants. All other tissue culture labs have limited operation and are more engaged in horticultural and commercial plants.
In conclusion, currently, no research on the production of forest plants using tissue culture exists in Pakistan. Some of the existing labs can offer the service if funds and facilities are available.
Suggestions for the forest departments and other stakeholders
The forest department and other stakeholders interested in propagating trees through tissue culture may utilize existing tissue culture facilities following the chronological steps given below. > The stakeholders need to shortlist species of their priority and desired characteristics> Collaborate with tissue culture research labs for conducting feasibility of these plants through tissue culture > With the help of research labs develop a protocol for the species propagation (duration, numbers, costs) ➢ Provide funding to the labs for research on tissue culture of sort listed species > Provide funding for production on a commercial scale.
Courtesy: REDD+ Pakistan