Pakistan plans to export 500,000 tonnes of potato to stabilise the domestic market, which is likely to crash due to supply of the stocked commodity in the market by the local traders just before the arrival of the new crop.
A senior official of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research said the Ministry had recommended to the government to immediately take steps to export up to 500,000 tonnes of potato otherwise the prices of the commodity would crash in the local market.
Potato requirements of the country are estimated to be around 3 million tonnes per annum. This year the country is expected to have a record production of over 3.7 million tons. The hoarders have offloaded an estimated 300,000 tonnes of the last year’s stocked potato in the wholesale market.
They have sold the commodity at Rs 6 to 9 per kg in the wholesale market. This will put pressure on the price of the fresh potato crop which is set to start coming to the market from mid-January and will continue till mid-April.
Last year the potato from farmers was procured at very low price of Rs 2 per kg but was sold at a price of over Rs 30 per kg throughout the year. The hoarders have planned a similar scheme for this year, the official said, adding they were making efforts to export the surplus to Sri Lanka, Turkey and Russia.
We have recommended to the government to immediately initiate measures for the potato exports as otherwise immense loss will be inflicted on the farmers by the hoarders. Export of 500,000 tonnes of potato will stabilise the domestic price and protect the farmers from massive losses, the official said.
Experts are of the opinion that if the exports are not ensured in a timely manner, the farmers may not sow potato crop next year which will result in another crisis. The farmers are already stressed due to drastic reduction in prices of major cash crops like wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane.
It is important to mention that Pakistan lacked cold storage facilities in the past. The rising exports of citrus have helped develop a good number of storages in the agriculture heartland. The same facility is now being utilised for the storage of vegetables and fruits.