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.