OKARA: Local potato growers should start cultivation in September and harvest the crop in November to export it to China where the yield matures a couple of weeks later.

The proposal is part of the recommendations of a committee tasked with formulation of potato export policy, forwarded to Agro Wing (AW) working under the federal commerce ministry.

Potato Research & Development Board (PR&DB) chairman and vice president the Potato Growers Association (PGA) Maqsood Ahmad Jatt, who is also a member of the newly-formed five-member committee to devise the five-year policy on potato export, shared this with Dawn.

The committee, he said, was formed at a webinar held around a week ago, presided over by Advisor to Prime Minister for Commerce Mr Razak Dawood. Other participants included federal commerce secretary, Potato Research Institute (PRI) Punjab director, patron in chief of the Vegetable Export Association (VEA) Pakistan and others.

He said that he also proposed that potato export to China should be prioritised because the containers under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were available at cheaper rates to local exporters.

He said he also proposed enlistment of the markets of Philippines, Thai Land and Indonesia for export of the local potato.

Jutt regretted that despite Holland accepting no potato exports from Pakistan, we import all our potato from the country, urging the policy-makers to focus on the issue.

He also deplored the government sector’s indifference towards collecting authentic data on crop cultivation and yield which provides the basis for formulation of an effective export policy.

The proposals sent separately by each committee member will be taken up at the next meeting.

At the webinar, Mr Dawood agreed to constitute a permanent Potato Research Council, instead of the board, comprising all stakeholders to resolve the crop-related issues, Jutt said.

The other four members of the committee include Punjab PRI Director Dr Ijazul Hasan VEA patron Hatim Khan and Mr Adnan Asad, a member of the American Business Council, Karachi.

Meanwhile, PGA-Pakistan president Mian Siddique has said Okara, Pakpattan, Sahiwal and Kasur

districts should be given special attention because of their massive share in the country’s potato production.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2021

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