Thursday June 01, 2023

PARC uses aeroponics technology to boost potato production

By Our Correspondent
March 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and South Korea are working jointly on seed potato production through Aeroponics technology and 2nd crop is ready to harvest at PARC-National Agricultural Research Centre in Islamabad, a statement said on Saturday.

Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and Korean Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA) held a media briefing on ‘Progress and Future Plan for Seed Potato Production through Aeroponics technology’: a joint project between KOPIA and PARC.

PARC and KOPIA are collaborating on a project for Aeroponic potato seed production system, with a goal of achieving higher productivity, reducing post-harvest losses, promoting farm-level processing, developing human resources, and creating significant job opportunities.

Potato is one of major cash crop of the country and during 2022 it was cultivated on an area of 313,000 hectare with total production of 7937,000 tonnes.

Potato seed in Pakistan is mainly imported from Holland, which is not only expensive but also of the fifth generation or above.

Pakistan's annual import of potato seed is around 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes, which costs around Rs2-3 billion. The local production of seed through the technology is expected to help minimise the import bill.

During the event, PARC chairman Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali expressed gratitude towards the Korean government and KOPIA team for their efforts in establishing Aeroponic technology for potato seed production at NARC Islamabad.

He emphasised the significance of potatoes as a vital crop globally and a need for research initiatives to promote indigenous seed production in the country, thereby reducing heavy imports.

He also mentioned that over 30 percent of the seed requirement could be met from tissue culture labs already operating at NARC, and private sector involvement in seed production was crucial due to its potential for business growth. Ali further highlighted the importance of the agriculture sector for economic growth in Pakistan and a need to preserve fertile land for future food demands.

Following the briefing, media personnel were given a tour of the Aeroponic greenhouses at NARC and briefed about the seed production technology.

Dr. Cho Gyoung-Rae, project director of KOPIA, provided an update on the progress of the potato seed production project. According to him, the project aims to establish additional greenhouses at NARC to produce 400,000 nucleus seed potatoes. The seeds will then be multiplied in 35 greenhouses, resulting in the production of 4,000,000 first-generation seed potato tubers for large-scale cultivation.

The project's goal is to produce 150,000 tonnes of high-quality fourth-generation seed potatoes within five years.