Sun. Nov 1st, 2020

Potatoes of Northern Areas (Gilgit – Baltistan)

by Arshad Ali Sakhi

Potatoes are one of the most important vegetable crops of Northern Areas of Pakistan. The lack of market access, cold storage facilities and the non – familiarity of the growers with modern farming methods are some of the factors discouraging the cultivation of this valuable and nutritious vegetable on a large scale. The other major factor that I observed, during my visit to Passu Gojal, is that the growers are not satisfied with the return they get from this crop. Although potato is major cash crop, I would say the only source of living for most of the households living in the region. But unfortunately even government is not taking serious measures to discourage the groups/ agents who unite themselves as a cartel to influence the price. So the product is sold at lower prices which in turn reduce the income of the growers.

Potatoes being a rich source of carbohydrate can be substituted with cereal and the use of this vegetable in our diet will considerably solve the present acute problem of food shortage in the country.

Potatoes are an important nutritional source of ascorbic acid, particularly among low income families the amount of ascorbic acid as reported varies from about 10-40 mg per 100 gm of fresh tubers Potatoes may have small amounts of the common organic acids such as malic, oxalic, and critic. Unfortunately potatoes are often excluded from the diets of those who wish to reduce body weight.

During informal discussion with the farmers, agents, and the buyers I tried to understand the market mechanism and forces involved in the marketing of potatoes. The farmers were worried about the marketing and even ready to sell at lower prices, because the collapsed China Bridge in Danyore, it has created problem for transportation of the product to the market.

During informal discussion with the stakeholders especially with the farmers I came up with the following conclusions or findings.

 

  • AKRSP intervention in this field is recommended to solve the major problems of the growers
  • A complete study of the value chain of the product is recommended in order to investigate the problem and find solution to the specific problems
  • Local Support Organizations can play a vital role in order to restrain the buyers to form a cartel
  • Formation of farmer association from the area can also be beneficial in order to monitor the marketing forces and to protect the rights of the farmers
  • In order to increase per hectare production of potato, LSOs with the help of other organizations can provide disease free quality seed to the farmers

The contributor works as Agri Business Analyst for the AKRSP, Gilgit.

4 thoughts on “Potatoes of Northern Areas (Gilgit – Baltistan)

  1. I am glade Arshd has highlighted the issue. It is a long standing and most critical issue. For centuries I guess people of NA were growing potato for their consumption but during the recent few decades farmers were growing potato ( seed and table) for commercial purposes. I remember during eighties FAO had a focus on producing quality seed and AKRSP facilitated marketing component of this vital activity.

    Although commercial potato cultivation expanded both vertically and horizontally but I guess major constraints such as quality seed production, storage facilities and its marketing approaches could not be resolved on sustainable basis.
    In my personal view the input cost of inputs has increased over the past years, farmers profit has declined and per acre yield has droped.

    I absolutely agree with Arshad that there is a strong need for the LDOs and development organizations in the NA to undertake value chain study. The study should identify the constrains and come up with solutions to remove the constrains so that small farmers can earn their bread and butter respectfully.

    Yesterday, I purchase a Kg of potato for Rs 36 in G-9/1 Islamabad.

    Just for information CNFA / I-LED a USAID funded project has built household level potato storage facility in Khaghan, I don’t know if some one is interested in visiting this project to learn their experience of prolonging shelf life of the product to enhance profit margin for farmers!!!

    Darjat

  2. It is fact that potatoes is our main source of income of the peoples of NA,S and specially in Hunza Gojal .but the main problem the farmers are facing is that they work hard durning the whole year but the output which they will have to gain is less then their hard working .

    the main problem that the peoples are facing is that

    the are not fully aware of the market demands of the product

    the buisnessman are mostly from down areas and what ever they want they can do the rate of their own will ,

    The agents are not playing a good role ,every one knows fully about their habits ,

  3. Really a great effort done by lopyor. Most of the farmer in gojal depend on this cash crop. it is need of the time to develop a team to search for a potential market. now AKRSP start to support the local people, through LSOs now it is up to the farmer to get benefits from those LSOs. according to my information AKRSP is paying 90,000 to every LSO but for Gojal they agreement is honorary(no money will be paid to the LSO of Gojal) . now this is the real situation. according to me if their is finance you can search for new channals to distribute the products to the potential market, so we have to think on this issue also.
    rashid WWF Gilgit

  4. it is true that pototoes are major income generatingcommodity in northern areas. and major losses ocured during processing and storage so proper storage is essential.

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