As a successful entrepreneur with more than three decades of experience working with leading companies specializing in agricultural inputs, Muhammad Asim started his career as a Technical Sales Manager at Ciba-Geigy after obtaining a Masters in Agriculture at Faisalabad University of Agriculture in 1990.
Asim is now the head of the regulatory science team in the plant science division of Bayer, the world’s leading company specializing in agricultural products.
Humble and down to earth, he also holds an MBA from Faisalabad University of Agriculture, and also responsible for seeds and biotechnology at CropLife Pakistan Association, a representative body of major multinational and local companies specializing in seeds, biotechnology and other agricultural inputs for crop protection.
Prior to reaching these heights, Asim worked as Technical Director at Granulars Private Limited for almost two years. He later served as Marketing Manager and Regional Director of Cargill Seeds, the company, which was later acquired by Monsanto globally.
Muhammad Asim is engaged in the agricultural sector in Pakistan. He was part of companies that were working to introduce hybrid seeds of different crops to growers. Hybrid varieties have revolutionized the lives of farmers by increasing yields.
He cherished the dream of raising Pakistani producers to the level of their counterparts in developed countries. He believes that adopting the technology is the only way to achieve the goal of farmers’ prosperity and food security in Pakistan.
He believes the component companies and CropLife as a whole are acting as a catalyst to increase agricultural yields in Pakistan. CropLife promotes international developments in crop protection, seeds and agricultural biotechnology, with the aim of providing authentic information to producers and relevant stakeholders.
It is open to dialogue with institutions / individuals interested in the future of food and agriculture.
Muhammad Asim is quite satisfied with the education and overall career development of his two sons and two daughters.
With the aim of giving maximum exposure to his children, he sent them to the best institutions for higher studies. He sent one of his sons to Grinnell College, Iowa, USA and the other to Kenyon College, Ohio, USA at the earliest age to graduate.
Here are excerpts from a meeting with him:
What was your first business?
Sales technician at Ciba-Geigy was my first job. An affiliation of approximately eight months with the company has been a wonderful learning experience. Dealing with farmers and stakeholders has been a unique learning opportunity that has helped me a lot in shaping my career.
What is your greatest achievement?
I am one of those who have worked hard to revolutionize the lives of producers by promoting the use of certified high yield seeds and modern technologies. The use of hybrid seeds in corn has helped farmers increase yields five-fold.
I was the first Pakistani to receive the Distinguished Development Award from Monsanto. My family has been invited to the United States to receive the award and spend time with senior management of the company; followed by a leisure trip to Hawaii.
I have done my best to give my children the greatest exposure. I have used all available resources to enable my children to wage their own wars.
Who is your model of inspiration?
Hazrat Ali (RA) is my inspiration role model. Everyone must follow the directions given by him. He (Hazrat Ali) taught how to behave in different situations / circumstances.
What is your biggest fear in life?
Honestly, I am not afraid. I trust in God who has already given me more than my capacities. I focused on the education and good upbringing of my children. I trust in God and pray for the better future of my children.
What is your favourite sport? Have you been a player / athlete yourself?
Cricketâ¦ Like most people, I played cricket during my school and college years. From now on, he is limited to watching sports on television.
Squash legend Jehangir Khan is my favorite because of his fitness, focus and consistency.
How many hours do you work per day?
Before the pandemic, my working hours usually ranged from 10 to 12 hours. Besides office work, I needed to visit test farms, meet regulators, work closely with academia and scientists, and attend workshops. The pandemic has changed the whole scenario. Even now, working from home is the usual practice.
Reading books has been my hobby since my school days. Literature was my favorite subject during school days. Now I prefer to read books / articles related to my field for knowledge. Bringing my farmers to the same level as those in developed countries is my dream. Advocacy for biotechnology aims to save the life / health of women / children in farming communities by minimizing their exposure to dangerous insecticides.
Something about the music?
I have never been a music lover. I love Naat and Qawwali. Abdul Star Niazi is my favorite Naat Khawan. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Aziz Mian are my favorite qawwals.
What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
I am a nature lover. I love the mountains, the falls and the beaches. I have been to so many countries. Hawaii is one of my favorite destinations. Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir are also my favorites because of their majestic mountains and beautiful landscapes. The poor road infrastructure and the lack of tourist facilities have made these areas relatively inaccessible.
Android or iPhone?
I have been using iPhone for so many years and for me it is easy to handle.
Your favorite clothing brand?
I can wear any brand because for me quality is key. Due to the odd size, I usually have my clothes sewn.
What are the future prospects for agriculture in Pakistan?
I am extremely positive about the future of agriculture in Pakistan. We have incredible talent, a young population, and a huge market with a huge roster of untapped potential. By adopting good agricultural practices and modern technology, we can earn huge foreign exchange through the export of agricultural products.
Why don’t CropLife member companies produce seeds in Pakistan?
Until 2004, companies continued to produce and export seeds for corn and other crops. Weak regulatory regime and lack of protection of intellectual property rights are the main reasons multinational companies abandon seed production in Pakistan. There is a need for a transparent and time-bound regulatory regime and the protection of intellectual property rights to encourage large companies to return to Pakistan and to protect domestic companies.
What do you think of the criticism of GM crops? What is his future in Pakistan?
Criticism is just for the sake of criticizing. Developed countries have accepted technology that has helped improve nutrition, crop yields, and lower input costs by minimizing the use of pesticides. Claims of dangers to health and the environment run counter to realities on the ground, as GM crops are approved after extensive testing.
I don’t expect the acceptance of GM crops in Pakistan in the near future, but the adoption of the technology is the key to bring about the agricultural revolution and achieve food security.
Speaking about his father, his son Muhammad Ibrahim said: âMy father has always been instrumental in my learning, at home and in school, and in my growth as a person. He taught me not only to survive, but also to thrive in any situation, no matter how difficult it is. Everything I accomplish in my life will be thanks to the work ethic and thoroughness he instilled in me.
Faiz Rasool, also his son, said: âHe has always been a person I admire and I always try to emulate his work ethic and discipline. He instilled in me important qualities that help me progress in university life.