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Pakistan aims to become self-sufficient in high quality potato seed production

Pakistan is poised to become self-sufficient in the production of high quality potato seed by mid-2022, according to a report by Amin Ahmed, published in Dawn. The country is said to start producing high-quality, virus-free, third-generation potato seed with the help of aeroponic technology imported from South Korea. The move will reduce the import bill for potato seed, which is $400 million per annum.

Aeroponics is a soilless method for producing high quality seed in a greenhouse. Aeroponic technology has been proven to allow for the production of pre-basic seed with a higher yield more quickly, more sustainably and with greater profits than conventional methods. A producer can reportedly recover initial investments quickly.

Currently, Pakistan imports about 15,000 tonnes of potato seed from various countries, but the quality of the seed is often questionable.

The aeroponic technique of potato seed production presents a new hope for high quality seed production in Pakistan, according to Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC). He said this technique will lead to higher growth rates and healthy, uniform and vigorous potato tubers. This will make potato production more efficient and reduce the number of cycles in potato seed multiplication, thus reducing the threats to health and quality of plants, he said.

With the special interest of South Korean Ambassador Suh Sangpyo, the transfer of the aeroponic technology became possible following the establishment of the Korea Programme for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology (KOPIA) at the National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad in 2020, with the objective of promoting bilateral cooperation in the agriculture sector. Different potato-growing countries have already started adopting this technology.

Under the agreement, a KOPIA-Pakistan Centre has been established in NARC followed by the establishment of an aeroponic greenhouse. The Rural Development Administration (RDA) of South Korea has provided funds for this project. Pakistan-South Korea joint activities will help introduce innovation in agricultural technology and techniques in seed development, which will improve smart farming and enhance small farms’ productivity besides increasing income levels of small farmers.

Source: Dawn. Read the full story here
Photo: Dawn

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