The Punjab province has offered 0.3 million tons potatoes for export without any duty/hindrance as the potato prices have slumped in the domestic market even much below the production cost of the farmers.
Government agriculture experts and vegetable market managers told Business Recorder that the potato production cost of the farmers comes to Rs 12 per kg whereas they are being paid Rs 8 to 9 per kg as of today (Wednesday) by the market manipulators.
The consumer is getting this popular food commodity at Rs 20 to 25 per kg. Minister for Agriculture Dr Farrukh Javed said here on Wednesday that the provincial government is making all out efforts so that the growers get maximum benefit of their hard work and a better price can be offered to them, Calling upon the exporters to increase potato exports to Pakistan’s traditional and new markets.
The Minister explained there is no duty on the export of potatoes and government will facilitate the potato exporters. A bumper potato crop is expected and we are planning to export at least 0.3 million tons potato this year he added.
He said a record 3.84 million ton potato was produced last year. Crop condition is also better and whether conditions are favourable, hence, a healthy production is expected this year as well provided the crop succeeds to avoid damaging effect from frost during the current month.
He said potato has been cultivated over 0.4 million acres this year which is 3.5 per cent higher than the last year. The per capita overall consumption is 14.28 kg/annum and keeping in view the maximum population of Pakistan as 180 million, the overall consumption will be 2.57 million tons.
In addition another 0.5 million ton will be required for next year seed. Keeping in view the average production of last five years at 3.36 million tons (95%) in Punjab, there will be still a surplus of at least 0.3 million tons minimum in Punjab which should be exported.
He said we are planning to export at least 0.3 million tons at the moment to benefit the farmer positively. The Minister said that huge foreign exchange can be earned through timely measures while farmers could also get proper return for their labour.
The minister said that the fresh crop of potatoes is being prepared for harvest and we are keenly monitoring the situation for timely export of additional production.
Dr Farrukh Javed said we will not let the middlemen interfere and farmers’ share will be given to farmers only. Pakistan exported around 250,000 tons of potatoes last year and we are expecting a bigger volume of export this year.
He directed that a watchful eye should be kept on potato crop and exporters should make arrangements for the export of surplus production abroad at the right time. He also directed that Agriculture Department Extension Wing should provide training and necessary information to cultivators to save their potato crop from potential frost. The government will export surplus potatoes so that farmers could be saved from financial crisis.
Source: Business Recorder