Islamabad (24th August, 2017)........ Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) on Potato was scheduled to be held on 24-08-2017 at Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Hqrs, Islamabad.
Chairman PARC Dr. Yusuf Zafar T.I., Chaired the inaugural session of the meeting and said that Pakistan is blessed with four seasons, having ideal environmental conditions for diversified agriculture production systems. Major horticultural produce of the country are vegetable and fruit crops. Among the vegetables potato ranks higher position regarding area under cultivation and total yield and Pakistan has natural advantage of growing three crops of potato. Globally potato is fourth largest food crop after rice, wheat and maize. He further added that Potato is assuming great importance in Pakistan as it provides more calories per unit area and per unit of time than other major food crops and has good prospects of export to nearby countries and through planning and technical assistance, the private and public sectors in certified potato production have been strengthen. This has resulted in 50% reduction of the import of the seed potato.
Dr. Hafeez Ur Rahman Director / National Coordinator (Hort), Plant Sciences Division (PSD) PARC and Chairman (VEC) briefed to the participants of the VEC meeting that in our country potato cultivation is categorized in three growing seasons as spring, summer and autumn crop with different geographical locations. Potato being a short duration crop lends itself to the multiple cropping patterns that exist in the country. Area under potato crop is 170.3 (000 hectares) with a total production of 39.39 million tones as per agricultural statistics of Pakistan 2015-16.
Dr. Anjum Ali, Member (PSD) PARC in his remarks said that about 5000 varieties of potato exist worldwide. In Pakistan both white and red skin varieties are cultivated but red skin is mostly liked by consumers.
Mr. Fazal Ur Rehman, Dte. of Agr. Research Potato in Balochistan said that in Pakistan, Potato is commonly used as vegetable. Potato Chips and French fries demand is increasing in big cities. Biotechnological tools are also in application for developing genetically modified potato varieties.
Mian Muneer Ahmed, Chairman Potato Importers Association of Pakistan and Parliament Secretary, Punjab also participated in the meeting urged to develop of short duration potato varieties for specific needs and disease resistance system.
Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) on Potato also recommended to improve in the quality of local certified seed through tissue culture labs and also suggested for establishment of National Potato Institute. This will not only step forward to sustainable agriculture but will also reap economic benefit by increasing per acre yield to fetch foreign exchange by exporting the surplus produce.
Director (PR&P) PARC
Edited by: Muhammad Fiaz Joyia
Director DSC&P, NARCARC