No body bothers about potato chips packet, which was bought at the rate of more than 500 rupees/kg. Potato is excessively grown in Pakistan and also exported to almost 12 countries of the world. It is staple food in many countries and has high nutrition value. It becomes more precious when it comes in the form of value added products like potato chips, canned potato food, and other potato products. Unfortunately there is no institute prevails in Pakistan to utilize the potential of the potato crop..
No body bothers about potato chips packet, which was bought at the rate of more than 500 rupees/kg. Potato is excessively grown in Pakistan and also exported to almost 12 countries of the world. It is staple food in many countries and has high nutrition value. It becomes more precious when it comes in the form of value added products like potato chips, canned potato food, and other potato products. Unfortunately there is no institute prevails in Pakistan to utilize the potential of the potato crop.
The potato rate in the market is uncertain, sometimes it gains a good rate and some times farmers even don’t cover the investment cost. The only reason is lack of processing industry in our country. The parallel example of guava and citrus are in front of us, they never got the good rate in pervious years but due to establishment of their processing industry, they have achieved the status of golden fruits for growers. Development in the fields of juice production and canning enhance their value and due to higher value of this fruit, increased cultivation can be seen in different areas of Pakistan. Establishment of Sharqpur and Shikhupupra as major guava producing area is a milestone in the way of development of processing industry.
The boom in citrus industry is also good sign for many fruit growers as well as for the economy of Pakistan. Earlier the most famous variety of citrus kinnow never got such a good rate and popularity as compared to pervious years. A single kinnow fruit gains the rate upto 5-8 rupees in the market.
It came in the wake of rise in citrus processing industry. Development of sargodha, bhalwal and Sahiwal as major citrus producing areas is also the other side of the same coin. Processing industry in fruit and vegetable does not cost so high to be afforded. Such processing units contain waxing, grading and packing processes. In all case of export of fruits and vegetable, we need almost similar type of processing unit, but unfortunately we have not enough processing units to export fruit and vegetable commodities.
Using processing units can also reduce post harvest losses in fruits and vegetables. But their unavailability at proper place is main reason for deteriorating the quality of precious Pakistani fruits and vegetables. Negligence at the part of Govt and NGOs to help out the export issue is major constraint to increase Pakistani export in agriculture commodities. Small farmers cannot afford the cost of processing unit. No sponsoring institute is ready to fund such risky trade project, where there is no developed trade market for Pakistani fruit and vegetables.
So processing industry in agricultural sector at government level is the need of the hour. If we analyze the whole situation, we produce many valuable products but lack of processing industry made them low priced and even those low priced commodities are sold again by multinationals at higher rate again to same countries.
In our country, there is no awareness to make vegetables and fruits a shopping store product. Due to which there always remains uncertainty in their prices. Tomatoes vary in market price from 10-60 rupees/Kg, as there is no concept to enhance their shelf life and store them by waxing. Simply by packing different vegetables we may make them value added products, as there is huge difference among market price of open rice and packed rice. There always remained a difference among rates in open marketed product and packed marketed commodity. Secondly middleman cannot exploit farmers if relevant processing industry would be there.
In case of fruits and vegetables farmers always remained handicapped to sell their product at middle mans rate rather than fixed by farmers. The simple reason is low shelf life of perishable commodities. The quality is deteriorating by mismanaging the sale at proper time. So this threat always remained a Damocles’ sword of hunger and starvation on the heads of poor farmers of the country. If there would be a set up to save the agricultural commodities by proper handling, grading, waxing and packing them it would be beneficial for every concerned person even the consumers will reap many benefits.
Definitely there would be stability in market price of the commodities and freshness can be stored for longer time period. The existing set up of selling vegetables and fruits are not hygienic as illiterate people pack them up. They don’t bother to wash them and also mix bad and good quality together, in this way ultimately consumer have to suffer. The consumer buys deteriorated products at demanded rate of the seller. Packing of all such products by involving waxing, grading would add their values. Processing industry in all farms adds the value of the products, and it is complimentary for export of all commodities.
If the farmers would be aware of such techniques, there would be more chances to earning by export of Pakistani valuable products. But initially processing industry on trail basis should be installed at different crop area, so the farmers must have easy access to their concerned industry. Earlier mango processing unit was reportedly installed at Karachi, where it has nothing to do, as Multan region in major mango producing area and farmers have not easy access to Karachi. Hence industry should be in that particular area, where that crop is excessively grown. Mango processing unit at Governmental level and export related unit in the vicinity of Multan should be established.
Studies should also be conducted to check the feasibility of packing fruits and vegetable at local level and make them market commodity instead of vendor’s product. Role of middleman should be minimized, there should be direct link between farmers and industries, either to process it or pack it for local consumption. Without concentrating on processing industry of particular crop, we may not achieve good market price at any level. As in modern world every perishable product always processed and packed, we should also follow the same practice to save the nutritional and hygienic quality of daily consumable products.
Europe is the biggest exporter of chocolate, but nowhere in Europe coca is grown. Due to established processing industry they import raw material and value add all these products and harvest ultimate profit. It is power of processing unit that makes things more precious. We should understand the need of the hour as we are quiet rich in raw material production but unfortunately we haven’t relevant industry to reap the crop benefit. We lack on every side of processing industry, the whole agriculture sector would not become prosperous till the chain network from grower to processor will not be established.
By: M.Ramzan Rafique (MSc (Hons) Agriculture)