Potato, one of the major crops in Pakistan, has shown tremendous export growth in the last five years. With a total production of around 3.14 million tons valued at USD 578 million, potato ranks third among food crops in Pakistan. Like any other crop, good quality seed greatly enhances crop productivity. However, 97% of the seed currently being produced in Pakistan is not of good quality because it is produced using outdated methods and without the appropriate know-how. Pakistan, therefore, is constantly increasing its import of good quality seed. A huge potential exists to substitute the import of seed potatoes with a locally produced product of desired quality and reduce the present dependency on imports. Since more than one-thirds of the input cost in potato production can be attributed to the cost of the seed, timely and local availability of good quality seed will not only ensure good crop production but will also help boost its overall profitability for the farmers.
The Agribusiness Project (TAP)identified several constraints in the seed potato value chain, including aweak domestic seed industry; absence of on-farm storage facilities, post-harvest losses during curing and storage; skills gap and the inability of the chain to ensure quality of the seed owing mainly to the absence of production and certification protocols and standards. The project, therefore, aims to provide assistance for the development of the domestic seed industry, establishment of storage infrastructure and promotion of value addition and true to type plants for potato seed industry. With these interventions, the project aims to create more than 1,200 new jobs, resulting in incremental sales to the value of USD 1.2 million, increase in production volume by 25% and reduce post-harvest losses by 30%.
- Provide transformation grants for construction of cellars/storage facility for seed potato in production areas to minimize post-harvest losses.
- 1621 farmers from 99 FEGs of GB and KPK were provided improved seed, tool kits and packaging material.
- Facilitate formation of a Seed Potato Value Chain Platform (SPVCP) to bring together all the value chain players on issues faced by the sector and to initiate advocacy.
- The project trained 2140 seed potato farmers from GB and Mansehra in pre-harvest and post-harvest handling, enterprise development and integrated pest management practices.
- Organize Farmers Field Days on land preparation and seed sowing, pre-harvest practices and to improve networking, experience sharing and market linkages
- Help the farming community to develop direct linkages with buyers for marketing of seed potato.
- Organize exposure visits to identified market/country to experience best practices of a model seed potato value chain.
- The project focused on establishing linkages of farmers with large companies. The value of private sector investment leveraged by three companies in seed potato amounts to USD 189,825.
USAID helps Pakistani exporting companies to export fruit and vegetables worth USD 6.7 m through participation in World Food Moscow, from Sep. 17-21,12