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Potato value chain, exports discussed

By News Desk
November 21, 2023
Representational image. — Exporters India
Representational image. — Exporters India

OKARA: Potato growers and exporters received valuable insights into the value chain and export potential of potatoes in traditional markets at a seminar organised by the Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Company (PHDEC), a statement said on Monday.

The seminar, held in collaboration with the Potato Growers Co-operative Society Okara, featured virtual presentations from Trade and Investment Officers (TIOs) from key traditional markets, including Afghanistan, Malaysia, Qatar, and Sri Lanka. Pakistan, the 19th largest potato exporter globally, produces about 8.0 million metric tons of potatoes annually, mainly exporting to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the UAE, the Russian Federation, and Qatar.

PHDEC chief executive officer Athar Hussain Khokhar highlighted the company's commitment to product and market development, urging the development of industrial potato varieties and inviting growers to submit value-added product proposals eligible for funding from the Export Development Fund (EDF).

Kausar Ali Zaidi, minister for Trade and Investment, emphasised Pakistan's tremendous export potential, particularly in the lucrative market of Afghanistan, where value-added potato products, such as potato chips, are popular.

Asmma Kamal, Trade and Investment Attaché, High Commission of Pakistan, Colombo, Sri Lanka, revealed that imported potatoes from Pakistan are more cost-effective than locally cultivated ones, contributing to Sri Lanka's import total of over $92 million from Pakistan in 2022.

Aisha Iftikhar, Trade and Investment Officer in Malaysia, highlighted the robust trade ties between Pakistan and Malaysia, noting the 22.78% increase in fresh and chilled potato imports to Malaysia, totaling around $100 million in 2022.

Syed Ijaz Ul Hassan, Principal Scientist at the Potato Research Institute Sahiwal, stressed the imperative need for research and development to enhance productivity and develop disease-resistant varieties. He also praised the seminar for disseminating production technology and building capacity among stakeholders.

Serrein Asad, Trade and Investment Attaché from Pakistan High Commission Doha Qatar, emphasized the popularity of Pakistani potatoes in Qatar and the potential for value-added potato products in the Qatari market.

The TIOs collectively assured the audience of their readiness to address any trade-related inquiries from potato growers and exporters. Salman Rizvi, a potato exporter, emphasized the necessity for infrastructure development, including ware­houses, to support the potato industry comprehensively.

He also advocated for a holistic approach and fostering a cottage industry for potato products. Mubarak Ahmed, Consultant from the Agro Division of TDAP, applauded the Potato Grower Cooperative Society Okara for their tireless efforts and emphasized the pivotal role of exports in the prosperity of potato growers. He also called for private sector investment in varietal development and infrastructure.