ISLAMABAD: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Wednesday in its Punjab Food Outlook Report 2018 revealed that Pakistan was the fourth largest producer of chickpeas in the world and has a huge potential to export potatoes to the Middle East.
According to an official message by FAO received here, it is the first of its kind report that has been prepared in response to a request from Punjab government with the technical support provided by FAO and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), following the lines of FAO's Global Food Outlook.
Speaking at the occasion, FAO Representative in Pakistan, Minà Dowlatchahi said, “The Punjab Food Outlook Report provides timely and accurate data that will enable government, extension workers and small farmers to make informed and evidence based decisions by monitoring food supply, demand and other key indicators for assessing the overall food security situation. It will eventually help reduce poverty and improve food security and nutrition in Pakistan."
The report would also help strengthen national capacities for managing and utilization of food security related information, she added.
Punjab produces 84 percent of gram or chickpeas, 77 percent of wheat and 95 percent of potato-three key Rabi crops of the country's total production, according to the Punjab Food Outlook Report 2018.
The report also provides forecast for cultivated area, yield and production levels for wheat, potato and gram across different agro-ecological zones of Punjab.
“These three crops use around 80 percent of harvested area during the Rabi cropping season," the report added.
According to the report, some of the key factors that have impacted wheat cultivation during the last decade include the prices of key inputs such as fertilizer, irrigation water availability and competition from other crops.
The report has been launched in Lahore by Punjab Minister for Agriculture Malik Nauman Ahmed Langrial.
Minister of Agriculture, Malik Nauman Ahmed Langrial termed the report as the dawn of a new era for agriculture in Punjab and appreciated the efforts of FAO and IFPRI in the preparation of the report to help agriculture enter a new era of evidence based decision making.
Raza Khan, advisor to the Punjab Agriculture department said that the publication will facilitate preventive actions by anticipating upcoming shocks and help set benchmarks by making an assessment of associated opportunities and risks. Stephen Davies, Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI gave details of the report in his presentation.
FAO in close collaboration with the federal and provincial governments is providing technical support to Punjab Agriculture Department for initiatives including the preparation of Punjab Agro-Ecological Zones and a study on SMOG, said the message.