Gilgit-Baltistan:Modern Controlled Atmosphere (CA) facilities for potatoes in Peshawar, Quetta, Gilgit and Multan

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ISLAMABAD (APP): The annual export of potato from the country averaged about 50,000 tonnes during the past 5 years which could be boosted by focusing on the regional markets including Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Concentrated approach is needed to enhance exports Chief Executive Officer Harvest Tradings, Ahmad Jawad said adding that the county could enhance its exports to Sri Lanka and Malaysia up to 75 percent and 50 percent respectively.

He said annual potato imports of Sri Lanka are over 60,000 tonnes and Malaysia over 100,000 tonnes while Pakistan’s share in these imports is 60 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

“The share in Sri Lanka can be increased to 75 per cent, i.e. an additional 15,000 tonnes and in case of Malaysia up to 50 per cent, i.e. an additional 43,000 tonnes,” he remarked adding markets in East Europe and Africa Regions could also be explored for enhancing exports.

Potato ranks third among food crops, after wheat and rice, and fifth in total agro products in Pakistan, Jawad said. Pakistan was one of the largest potato producing country in the world.

The total production of potatoes was about 1.8 million metric tones (MMT) in 1988-99 that increased to 2.94 MMT in 2008-09 which was the highest in the history of potato production.

Production reached 2.94 MMT in 2008-09 and 3.14 million tones in 2009-10, he said adding for the Rabi season 2010-11 the government has set potato production target of 2.64 million tones.

Total production from these crops has increased at the rate of 4 percent due to 1.9 per cent expansion in area and 2 per cent rise in yield, he added.

Jawad said that the government aims to launch a project for establish modern Controlled Atmosphere (CA) facilities in different cities of the country with total cost of Rs.2.29 billion.

The facilities would be established in Peshawar, Quetta, Gilgit Baltistan and Multan he said and informed modern CA storage facilities and advance ventilated cold storage rooms for fruits would be part of the project.

Jawad said that it is estimated that 25% fruit and vegetables are lost due to lack of provision of cold storage and with the establishment of CA facility the damages of perishable commodities could be decreased.

Storage facilities would be built in collaboration with a Chinese company through procurement of needed machinery and its installation.

The scheme would increase shelf life of agricultural products like apple and pear and according to the plan, CA rooms would be established in Peshawar, Quetta and Multan, each having 5,000 ton of storage capacity of fruits and vegetables.

He said that the project would be completed in five years 2010 to 2015 for which the government of China would provide Rs1.862 billion as grant and local component for this scheme includes Rs.366.878 million.

The advance storage facilities would be available to store about 34000 ton of fruits and vegetables per annum, while the advanced ventilated potato storage rooms would be established in Okara, Daska and Karachi having 6,000 ton of potato storage ccapacity; Jawad added.

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