The more than normal rains in the month of March and moisture level above 70 percent have delayed harvesting of ripe potato crop and sowing of spring maize (corn) this season, Director General, Agriculture Extension Services, Dr Anjum Ali told Business Recorder, here on Sunday.
He said that the farmers had suffered heavily in the central Punjab as their fields were still occupied by the potato crop on which they would have sown cash crop maize over an area of 0.4 million acres in the month of February.
Both these crops have lately become a major source of income for the farmers, Ali added.
The late rains have also damaged potato grams and lentils crops, delayed harvesting of strategic wheat crop by another two weeks and possibly sowing of cotton on the vacated fields and disturbed cropping patron in Punjab.
Agriculture experts say that potato and maize (corn) have become cash crops for farmers in the central Punjab because of better hybrid seeds and high yields. The potato yield touches 250- 300 maunds and production of spring corn is between 80 and 100 maunds.
An agronomist, Farooq Bajwa, said this year profitability of potato farmers is at stake as the crop has been damaged considerably. The current price of potato is about Rs 25 per Kg, therefore the farmers would not be able to recover their cost of production.
The delay in potato harvesting has already delayed the winter maize sowing. The most propitious sowing time for current corn hybrid seeds is mid-February, which has already been missed. Any further delay in sowing can cause reduction of yield up to 35 percent.
According to Bajwa, maize is of significant important cereal for countries like Pakistan, where rapidly increasing population has already out stripped the available food supplies. In Pakistan maize is third important cereal after wheat and rice.
While over the years, potato has become an important crop for both farmers and consumers in Pakistan. It is the fourth most important crop by volume of production, it is high yielding, having a high nutritive value and gives high returns to farmers. Pakistan is self-sufficient in potatoes for household consumption and relies for more than 99 percent on locally produced seed potatoes.
Widespread rain-thundershower accompanied with gusty winds occurred in KP, upper Punjab, Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and at isolated places in Zhob, Sukkur and Larkana divisions during past twenty four hours.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/pakistan-potato-crop-in-punjab-rains-cold-weather-delay-harvesting)