It is encouraging to see that the Pakistan government has been open to new agricultural knowledge based on the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International’s (CABI) local scientific studies. CABI has been a long-term collaborator in the growth of the agriculture sector in the country. CABI started a program to enhance the capability of small-scale potato producers in four districts of Punjab with government funding. The interventions began in Okara, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, and Kasur in December 2020.
The overarching goal of the project is to boost the productivity and sustainability of the potato smallholder sector in Punjab, with a focus on empowering women and promoting sound agricultural practices. Through an intensive two-and-a-half-year potato training and extension program, the initiative will increase the productivity and sustainability of potato production for 950 smallholder farmers in four major potato regions of Punjab.
This initiative will increase the ability of small-scale potato producers in selecting high-quality seed while supporting pesticide usage that is both, sustainable and safe. Farmers, particularly women, will be given knowledge and skills to encourage them to participate fully in the potato value chain. Farmers will be given technical information about post-harvest procedures to assist them decrease losses. Furthermore, multiple communication and demonstration channels will be established to train the farmers, like: farmer field training, extension support to farmers, and translation of field and technical manuals to Urdu.
Several initiatives are in the works, thanks to the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and its subordinate institutions. It is only about one key crop, which can change the direction of Pakistan’s agriculture scene. Many additional initiatives can be enacted on the success of one pilot project to eventually make Pakistan a nationally food secure country.