. .



By Dr. S.M. ALAM 
and            
 S.M. MUJTABA
NIA, Tandojam, Pakistan
April 22 - 28, 2002

The total geographical area of Pakistan is about 796,096 sq. km. Most of the areas in the Punjab and Sindh provinces are comprised of plain land, formed by the River Indus. Pakistan is known for its excellent network of canals and rich agricultural lands, with three major reservoirs Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma, 23 barrages, 12 huge interlink canals, about 63,800 kilometers canal's length, 106 kilometers water courses and 107,000 no. of channels spreading all over the country.

The Northern Regions of Pakistan is famous for its high mountain ranges, the Himalayas and Karakorams. The highest peak in the area is Godwin Austin (K-2), which is 8610.60 meters above the sea level. This is the second highest peak in the world. The south western part of the country is a plateau with an average height of about 609.6 meters above the sea level. The Province of NWFP comprises of both hilly areas and fertile valleys. Balochistan, the biggest province of Pakistan is mainly an arid region with promise of mineral wealth.

 

Total land areas

(Mha)

Total cropped areas

(Mha)

Punjab

20.60

11.04

(55.70 %)

Sindh

14.10

05.45

(27.50 %)

NWFP

10.20

01.93

(09.73 %)

Balochistan

34.70

01.40

(07.06 %)

Pakistan

79.60

19.82

(07.06 %)

Of this cropped area, only 25 per cent is under cultivation, 4.5 per cent under forest, about 57 per cent is range land. The irrigated land is 75 per cent (15.2 mha. of the total cropped area), 19 per cent (or nearly 4.25 mha.) is rain-fed, while the other 4 per cent is irrigated by tube-well and other sources.

CROPPING SEASONS:

Rabi crops: Wheat, gram, tobacco, rape seed, mustard, pulses etc. Sowing start from October to January and harvested between April to June.

Kharif crops: Rice, cotton, maize, sugarcane. Sowing start in April to September and harvested in October to March.

HORTICULTURAL CROPS AND THEIR IMPORTANCE

The importance of horticultural crops in human nutrition is well known. These crops play a important role in balancing the diet of human being by providing not only energy-rich food but also promise supply of vital protective nutrients like minerals and vitamins, employment generation, food and financial security of the citizen. They not only adorn the table but also enrich health from the most nutritive menu and tone up energy and vigour of the people. These crops provide supplementary and protective food. The consumption of these horticultural crops will contribute in alleviating malnutrition and other under nutritional problems like night blindness, anemia, goitre, scabies etc. of the poverty stricken people of the society. The region of Pakistan has a rich topographic and climatic endowments and variations in soil, on which a large range of horticultural crops, such as fruits, vegetables, roots and tuber crops, ornamental, medicinal and aromatic plants, plantation crops, spices and other are grown.

Having independence in 1947, the major emphasis was laid on achieving selfsufficiency in food production. Development of high yielding wheat varieties and high production technologies and their adoption in areas of assured irrigation paved the way towards food security ushering in green revolution in the sixties. It, however, gradually became clear that horticultural crops for which the Pakistani topography and agroclimates are well suited is an ideal method of achieving sustainability of small holdings, increasing employment, improving environment, providing an enormous export potential and above all achieving nutritional security.

A significant increase has been observed in the export earnings from the horticultural crops during the recent years. This sector has the potential to provide opportunities to increase income and alleviation of hunger and poverty and curve down socio-economic problems of the region.

MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS:

Fruit crops: Pakistan is blessed with many horticultural crops, which are highly important in the economy of Pakistan. They include fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants. The fruit industry in Pakistan has made remarkable progress during the last four decades. The important fruit crops of the country are: i) Citrus - Kinno, Mandarin, Red Blood, Musambi; ii) Mango - Langra, Sindhri, Dusehri, Chaunsa, Anwar, Ratol, Begun Pali; iii) Grapefruit - Marsh seedless Shambler; iv) Lemon - Kagzi lemon; v) Date palm - Asil, Begum Jungi, Dhaki, Halini Fasli; vi) Apples - Golden delicious, Red delicious, Mashdi, Amri; vii) Pomegranate - Behi-dana; viii) Guava - sufaida; ix) Apricots - Char Maghzi; ix) Peaches - Florida King, Early grand; x) Plums - Santa Rosa, Stanley; xi) Almond - Kaghzi, Besta; xii) Banana; xiii) Papaya; ixv) Ber; xv) Custard Apple; xvi) Coconut; xvii) Jamun; xviii) Sweet Orange; ixx) Pear; xx) Custard apple; xxi) Phalsa; xxii) Tamarind; xxiii) Groundnut; ixxv) Walnut.

The total number. of orchards in Pakistan is about 328,400.The statistics are as: i) The number of orchards within l acre of land is 111.5 x 103; ii) the orchards within 1 to 5 acres are 173 x 103; iii) the orchards within the size of 5 to 25 acres constitute of 40 x 103 and v) 50 and above 1.5 x 103.

Vegetable crops: Vegetables rank next to cereals as a source of carbohydrates. Vegetable plants store reserve food in roots, stems, leaves and fruits, which are eaten fresh and or cooked, picked and used along with the staple food like wheat and rice. The nutritive value of vegetables is tremendous, because of the presence of nutrient packed food containing mineral salts and vitamins. Pakistan grows a large variety of vegetables of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate groups on 15 x 104 hectares producing about 1.8 million tons. According to experts dealing with human nutrition, a balanced diet requires 100 g of vegetable per person day. The vegetable crops could thus be used to substantiate the cereal crops. The some of the important vegetables grown in the country are: Potato, Onion, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Turnip, Radish, Carrot, Pea, Bean, Soybean, Sweet gourd, Bitter gourd, Lady's finger, Pumpkin, Cucumber, Snake melon, Bitter gourd, Squash, Bringal, Tomato, Sweet pepper, Chilli, Spinach, Sugar- beet, Sweet potato, Drumstick, Bathua, Lettuce, Mint, Garlic, Ginger, Fenugreek.

Flowers and ornamental plants: The availability of flowers and ornamental plants has recently increased with change in crop production priorities and rise in living standards. The availability of pick flowers of Red Rose and Marigold in use since ages for garlands has increased manifold. Additionally, cut flowers for flowers arrangements have sprung up in market due to demand pull by the local consumers. The demand for long stem roses, tube roses, gladioli has tremendously increased. In order to explain the cultivation of these plants, import of quality hybrid flower seeds and planting material may be allowed free of duty to promote production of quality leading to export. The small items of machinery and shading nets to be used by the flowers and ornamental plant nurseries should be exempted from the levy of duty.

Exports:

1997 - 98

 

(Fruits and Vegetables)

Quantity (tons).

Value (Rs. millions)

Potato

38916

211

Onion

64997

385

Mushroom

68

216

Kinno

58593

310

Bananas

4252

20

Dates (Fresh)

10233

200

Dates (Dry)

55491

973

Mangoes

35834

302

All Fruits

204354

2792

Vegetables

105620

832

Post harvest technology: The post harvest losses in fruits are of about Rs. 30 billion and in vegetables about Rs. 20 billion. The high rate of post harvest losses in fruits and vegetables and rising consumer prices are resulting in low returns to the growers and traders, besides limiting the national exports. To minimize post harvest losses in vegetables and fruits to safeguard the interest of growers, processors, traders and as well as consumers. In addition to this, the standardization of pre and post harvest management technologies aimed at minimizing post harvest losses and standardizing market practices are inevitable to promote horticulture as an industry in Pakistan. We must improve our quality standards to capture the international market, keeping in view of the WTO standards.

The following active measures are being taken to reduce these substantial losses:

  • Quick and efficient disposal by airplane from one city to another city of high value commodities like perishable fruits and flowers.

  • Post harvest management particularly hydro-cooling, grading, packing and transport.

  • Packing technologies to popularize among the farming communities through introduction of card board packs and high quality lining materials.

MAJOR CONSTRAINTS OF HORTICULTURAL SECTOR:

The production of fruits, vegetables and root and tubers at present, is constrained by several factors. Some of these are listed below:

  • It is difficult for a farmer to obtain the plants of the desired variety and of sound health when he plans to put up an orchard.

  • A major constraint in the horticultural sub sector is the availability of appropriate facilities for harvest and post-harvest management. Our present production system is not organized to commercially exploit these perishables.

  • Fruits and vegetable production calls for an expensive investment.

  • Inadequate availability of good quality seed and planting materials

  • Imbalanced fertilizer application

  • Low productivity and high cost of production

  • High percentage of post-harvest losses

  • Inadequate storage facilities and outdated methods used in processing / packaging

  • Inadequate market information and difficulties in marketing

  • Difficulties in obtaining suitable land for expansion and in obtaining financial assistance

  • Lack of irrigation facilities

  • Non -availability of cold storage facilities to store perishables prior to shipment

  • Insufficient air cargo space and non-priority to perishable floriculture produce at air ports

  • Lack of appropriate packaging for floricultural produce

  • Lack of a well established information database

  • Lack of infrastructure to support technology development, education and training

RECOMMENDATION:

  • Land for the establishment and expansion of nurseries

  • Infrastructure development and equipment

  • Incentive schemes and financial assistance

  • Cold storage facilities

  • Air cargo space / subsidy on air and sea freights

  • Packaging and other associated facilities

  • Institutional support research and development

  • Exchange of new germ plasm in developing new crop varieties

  • Seed policies to facilitate the importation of hybrid seeds of horticultural crops

  • Exchange of experts in different fields

  • Joint ventures in seeds and planting material production

  • Joint ventures in storage and processing industry

  • Exchange of technologies in production of small farm machinery and equipment

  • Training programmes on hybrid seed production, post-harvest handling, processing, socio-economic data collection and analysis

  • Setting up of a regional information network.

  • Appropriate handling of horticultural items at airport and seaport

  • Establishment of modern wholesale markets for fruits, vegetables and flowers.