Agriculturists and traders have urged research institutes to play their role in improving agricultural productivity as per acre yield in Pakistan was quite low.
They were speaking at a meeting of agricultural experts and businessmen of the Potohar region, arranged jointly by the Islamabad and Chakwal chambers of commerce and industry here on Friday to identify potential opportunities for local and foreign investors in various varieties of agriculture crops and share ideas on improving agriculture productivity.
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Shaban Khalid said that Barani areas have suitable climatic conditions for agriculture and stressed that research institutes should identify all potential varieties of agriculture and horticulture crops in the region to attract local and foreign investment.
“These institutes should also cooperate with agro sector businessmen in value addition of such products in order to meet local needs as well as to increase exports of surplus crops,” he said.
The capital’s chamber has taken an initiative to take onboard the regional chambers to promote linkages between research institutes and entrepreneurs, he said.
Chakwal’s Barani Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) Director Dr Muhammad Tariq talked about various varieties of agriculture and horticulture products, that could be cultivated in the Potohar region which has rich potential for various varieties of ground nuts, pulses, vegetables, olive products, grapes, citrus and flora. He said that out of the total production of ground nuts in Punjab, Barani areas produce 93.3 per cent.
“The excellent varieties of ground nuts have huge potential for export and 40 per cent edible oil can be extracted from ground nuts of this area, which is very useful for health,” said Dr Tariq.
He said that the area also has huge potential for olive oil and its value added products. The high quality grapes and cut flowers of this region have also great scope for exports.
Horticultural crop production being labour extensive also creates more jobs and improves socio-economic conditions of the farming community. These crops fetch 10 times the gross income compared to other crops and thus are an important source of foreign exchange earnings.
Dr Tariq said that his institute conducts research in various crops, develops high yielding, drought tolerant and disease resistant crop varieties, helps in standardization of appropriate production technology for fields and fruit crops and advises farmers for better crop, soil and water management.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2014.
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