LAHORE-Pakistan China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) on Wednesday suggested that Pakistan should enhance export of potatoes by establishing and promoting Tissue-Culture Laboratories, as the country is one of the major exporters of potato and also self-sufficient in its domestic use.
The joint chamber’s President Moazzam Ghurki, while giving his input in a think-tank session held here at PCJCCI Secretariat, mentioned that floods had devastated many kinds of crops in Pakistan, while potato production soared to 7.937 million tonnes in fiscal year 2022-23 from 5.873 million tonnes in the FY 2021-22, up by 35 percent as floods did not hit Punjab which is a hub of potato production. By contrast, he continued, Pakistan imports 20,000 tonnes of potato seeds every year and most of the potato seeds in Pakistan highly depend on imports and the initial cost of potato production is high because 35 to 40 percent of the cost goes to seeds, and there is a dire need to make it cost-effective for the low-income farmers. “Therefore, we should promote Tissue-Culture Laboratory for the affordable seed production of potatoes at massive scale in Pakistan rather than depending upon expensive foreign seeds,” he suggested.
PCJCCI Senior Vice President Fang Yulong said that Pakistani and Chinese enterprises have been working tirelessly to find opportunities for cooperation in this sector. In addition to seed production, related potato by-products are also welcome Chinese investors. Besides this, mechanised harvesting, pest control are also full of opportunities for investment. He added that in order to build Pakistan’s largest potato tissue culture lab, various Chinese agricultural enterprises are involved for its practical implementation. The most common potato diseases in Pakistan include early blight, stem rot and so on. In contrast, Chinese varieties are more resistant to pests and diseases with higher yields, which is exactly what Pakistan needs to learn to improve our own potato germ plasma.
Joint Chamber’s Vice President Hamza Khalid was of the view, “We must ensure the localised production of high-quality seeds, and at the same time improve planting technology and mechanisation level. Then we might be able to export potatoes to other countries. We have a huge potential for countries that have smaller land areas or don’t produce much of their own potatoes.”