In 2018, China’s biggest agrochemical corporation, Sinochem Group Co, announced that it had conducted field trials of hybrid wheat varieties in 230 locations in Pakistan.
Since intellectual property rights prevent farmers from saving hybrid seeds, for a country where 50% of arable land is destined to this staple crop, the results of this would be unprecedented. As farmers worried about the risks this would have on their livelihoods, the governments of China and Pakistan were celebrating. This operation was a key step in boosting ties between the two countries under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), itself part of a bigger endeavour called the Belt and Road Initiative.1 The introduction of hybrid wheat paved the way for bigger things to come. A year later, on his visit to Beijing for the second phase of this project, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan took agriculture from CPEC’s margins to the centre.