Over the years, potato has become an important crop for both farmers and consumers in Pakistan. It is the fourth most important crop by volume of production, it is high yielding, having a high nutritive value and gives high returns to farmers.
From around 3,000 Ha. At the time of independence, the area under production increased to around 112,000 ha during 2004-2005. During the same period the average yields rose from around 9 in 1947 to 18 MT per ha. Pakistan is self-sufficient in potatoes for household consumption and relies for more than 99% on locally produced seed potatoes. Presently, it is estimated that the total annual domestic production amounts to around 2.02 Million MT, of which 280000 MT is used as seed and 1.7 Million MT is available for consumption after post harvest losses. With a population of roughly 150 Million, this accounts to 11 Kg per Capita per annum.
The recent large increase in acreage was reached by an intensification of the cultivation in existing potato growing areas, as well as by introduction of the crop in new areas and to inexperienced farmers. Hence, many problems, like diseases and pests, became more hazardous and a large number of farmers are lacking knowledge of the right cultivation technique. These include pests and disease control, land preparation and irrigation, fertilizer application, crop rotation and multi-cropping techniques. The lack of credit facilities to purchase inputs creates difficulties, in particular for small farmers, inhibiting their effort to raise productivity.
High quality costly seed forms another constraint. The seed contributes to about 35-40% of the total cost of production in Pakistan. Formal certified seed production is limited and faces technical, economical and managerial problems. Lack of availability of sufficient quantities of good seed and low purchasing power of the farmers, forces them to rely on seed sources of doubtful quality or own production, for which most of them do not have the proper skills.
Poor post harvest handling, including transport and storage practices, causes unnecessary damage and losses and reduction of consumption quality. Sufficient cold store space is available in Pakistan. The handling of potatoes in storage is unsatisfactory and poorly managed. Finally, the farmers and consumers are faced with serve cyclical fluctuations in price, as production moves from glut to shortage, so preventing the farmers from enjoying a reliable income and inhibiting the consumer from including potato as a regular staple part in his diet.
Area and production of potatoes in Pakistan:
AREA. (000 HA)
YIELD. TONNES/ HA.
1947-48 3.0 30.0 10.0
1999-2000 112.8 1871.0 17.3
2000-2001 101.5 1665.7 16.4
2001-2002 105.2 1730.7 16.4
2002-2003 115.8 1946.3 16.8
2003-2004 109.7 1938.1 17.7
2004-2005 112.0 2024.9 18.1
1. From Agricultural Statistics of Pakistan,
MINFAL, Islamabad 2004-2005.
Provincial Shares in Area and production.
Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan respectively account for 86, 0.5, 9 and 4.5 percent of the total area and 88.3, 0.3, 7.2 and 4.2 percent of the production of potatoes in the country.
The shares of Autumn, Spring and Summer crops in the annual production are estimated at 75,10 and 15 percent, respectively.
Important Potato Production Districts.
Districts of Okara, Sahiwal, Kasur, Sialkot, Sheikhupura, Jhang, Lahore, Narowal, Pakpattan, Gujranwala, T.T. Singh and Khanewal from the Punjab, Nowshera, Dir, Swat, Balakot, Gilgit, Sakardu and Mansehra from the NWFP and Pishin, Killa Saifulla and Kalat from Balochistan are important potato growing districts, accounting among themselves for 78 percent of the total production of the crop.
Changes in Area, Yield and Production.
(a) Long Term Changes:- 1995-96 to 2004-05.
Potato production during the ten year period between 1995-96 to 2004-05 is estimated to have increased @ 7.5 percent per annum on account of 3.8 percent annual expansion in its area and 3.7 percent improvement.
The lion’s share in potato production in last six year was (1999-2005) i.e. 90 percent comes from Punjab, where Autumn and Spring crops are raised from Balochistan 3 percent from sindh, 0.25 percent from NWFP, 6.62 percent.
In Sindh, area of potatoes have decreased by 3.2 percent resulting in production decrease of 12.5 percent in the last ten years.
Climatic conditions in the NWFP are conducive to grow all three crops of potatoes. Total production from these crops has increased @ 6 percent on account of 2 expansion in area and 4 percent rise in yield.
In Balochistan, only Summer crop is cultivated. The production in this province has diminished 9.3 percent in last ten years because the area under the crop has contracted @ 4.35 percent.
MAJOR POTATO GROWING SEASONS
TABLE NO. VI:
CROP PLANTING HARVESTING PRODUCTION SHARE
Spring Jan-Feb April-May 07.10 %
Summer March-May August-Oct 15-20 %
Autumn Sept-Oct Jan-Feb 70-75 %
IMPORTANT POTATO VARIETIES BEING GROWN IN PAKISTAN
TABLE NO. VII:
RED SKIN WHITE SKIN
SH-5 Lady Rosetta
Raja, Symphonia, Asterix Sante
DIFFERENT PUBLIC AND PRIVATE INSTITUTES/ORGANIZATIONS
WORKING IN SEED POTATO PRODUCTION
– Agricultural Biotechnology, NARC, Islamabad. – Syko International Company Lahore.
– Plant Virology, AARI, Faisalabad. – Bari traders Lahore.
– Hazara Agriculture Research Station, Abbottabad. – Okara Potato, Vegetable & Fruit Growers Co-operative Society.
– Potato Seed Unit, Deptt. Of Agri. Gilgit. – Bhatti Brothers Lahore.
– VSSPP, Farm, ARI, Quetta. – Nangaparbat Potato Growers Association, Gilgit
– Punjab Seed Corporation, Sahiwal. -Hammad & Company, Sahiwal
– Haji Sons Lahore – Stamex International, Lahore
– AGB Seed Company Lahore
– Trade channels, Lahore.
– Punjab Agri. Farms, Lahore.
NON AVAILABILITY OF QUALITY SEED:
Rapid degeneration of quality seed due to its multiplication in spring season which is full of viral diseases vector Myzus persicae.
Total quantity of imported seed has to pass through spring season for further multiplication.
Spread of fungal diseases.
Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) was found major yield limiting factor in high hills and is also a serious problem in plains, it may reduce the yield up to 70%.
In year 2006-07 late blight appear as major disease in all potato growing areas. This disease is favored by temperature between 10 C0 and 25 C0, accompanied by heavy dew or rain.
It is suggested to growers in future precautionary sprays of fungicide in the month of November for autumn crop, in February for spring crop and in August for summer crop can help to save potato crop from sever damage of late blight.
Two type of the fungicides are available in market protective and curative to control this disease.
Diseases with Mycoplasma Pathogens:
Mycoplasma was found a serious problem in major potato growing areas of Punjab. 45% reduction in yield was recorded in research trials.
Soil borne diseases.
Monocropping in hilly areas and lack of crop rotation in other potato growing areas of Pakistan are major causes for spread of soil borne diseases.
Rhizoctonia, Verticillium, Scab and Softrot.
Lack of high yielding and disease resistance clones.
No proper gene pool is available in the country.
Lack of coordination in seed producing agencies.
There is very little coordination among public and private seed producers.
Different agro-ecological zones for potato production.
- Irrigated plains of Sindh, Southern Punjab and Balochistan.
- Irrigated plains of Central Punjab and South East NWFP.
- Irrigated and rainfed plains of NWFP and Northern Punjab.
- Irrigated lower valleys of NWFP.
- Rainfed high valleys and hill sides of NWFP, Northern Punjab and Azad Kashmir.
- Irrigated high valleys of NWFP, Northern Areas around Chillas and Azad Kashmir.
- Irrigated high valleys of Northern Areas and NWFP around Mastuj.
- VIII.Irrigated high valleys of Balochistan, South and North Waziristan.