LANZHOU, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) — Asfa Batool, a Pakistani postdoctoral fellow at Lanzhou University in northwest China’s Gansu Province, is dedicating her efforts to advancing dryland agricultural research. Her goal is to harness her knowledge and technology to bolster grain production in Pakistan.
Asfa’s journey at Lanzhou University began in 2012 when she arrived for her master’s degree. Over the past 11 years, she has earned her doctoral degree in ecology in 2018 and embarked on postdoctoral research following her PhD graduation.
Grateful for the opportunity to study in China, Asfa credits her advisor, Professor Xiong Youcai from the College of Ecology at Lanzhou University, for her inspiration. Professor Xiong had previously given a lecture during Asfa’s undergraduate studies at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad in Pakistan, introducing her to Chinese dryland agriculture and water-saving technology.
Asfa was deeply impressed by Chinese agricultural technologies and aspired to apply them in Pakistan to transform its agricultural landscape.
Supported by a Chinese Government Scholarship, she applied for graduate studies at Lanzhou University and began her research journey under Professor Xiong’s guidance in 2012. Her research has primarily focused on agriculture and biotechnology to enhance plant growth and productivity.
“Chinese dryland agricultural technology offers an innovative approach to boost crop productivity in arid and semi-arid regions while conserving resources and water,” noted Asfa. She emphasized the importance of adopting Chinese technologies in Pakistan, particularly in dry regions reliant on rainfall for crop cultivation.
According to Professor Xiong Youcai, Chinese dryland agricultural technology not only minimizes resource wastage and efficiently saves water but also enhances soil fertility while reducing evaporation at the soil surface. Importantly, this technology is cost-effective and easily implementable.
With Professor Xiong’s support, which included helping her set research objectives and providing access to lab facilities, Asfa conducted extensive research on wheat and maize. Her experiments included split root studies to investigate the role of phytohormones in drought stress. She also applied Chinese water-saving techniques to maize and wheat cultivation in Pakistan.
“I compared Chinese technology with local planting practices, focusing particularly on empowering local farmers, enabling them to increase their yields and benefit from Chinese technology,” explained Asfa.
Asfa firmly believes that China’s ridge and furrow mulching technology, a key component of dryland agriculture, can significantly boost yields compared to traditional flat planting methods. Her experiments in Pakistan’s dry regions yielded promising results, and she witnessed local farmers successfully implementing water-saving technology to secure their harvests and provide for their families.
Asfa was deeply impressed by China’s commitment to improving the lives of impoverished communities. “That’s what Pakistan needs,” she affirmed, expressing her determination to introduce Chinese agricultural technology in Pakistan to enhance the livelihoods of local farmers.
In addition to acquiring technical expertise, Asfa also focused on theoretical research, proposing and demonstrating innovative design techniques with numerous high-quality journal publications.
Furthermore, she played a pivotal role in bridging collaborations between scientists from China, Africa, Australia, and Pakistan. Her proficiency in both Chinese and English, as well as her command of Urdu, her native language, made her an invaluable resource in organizing international forums and meetings hosted by Lanzhou University. Her responsibilities included coordinating accommodations and logistics for participants, ensuring their smooth participation in forums and meetings.
One notable event was the April 2023 Forum of University Alliance of the Belt and Road, hosted at Lanzhou University. Asfa’s volunteer work involved managing participants’ invitation and visa letters and facilitating their presentations and other official engagements at the university.
“These experiences provided a platform for me to exchange ideas among people from diverse corners of the world,” said Asfa, reflecting on her fulfilling experiences.
Asfa is eager to bring Chinese agricultural technologies to Pakistan after her graduation, emphasizing the importance of strengthened collaboration between China and Pakistan across various fields.