LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has demanded the government to facilitate the exports of potato as the present state of potato growers was miserable.
LCCI President Almas Hyder said in a statement that the government should facilitate the exports of potato so that the country could earn precious foreign exchange. He said that transportation cost for potato should be reduced and facilities should be given for its packing and washing.
LCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Shahzad Nasir and Vice President Faheemur Rehman Saigal, in a meeting with an expert of agriculture sector, Ahmed Saeed Bhatti, said growers of potato are in a deep financial crisis as they have been compelled to sell their crops below the cost of production for the last three years. Average per annum potato production is 4.5 million tons against the local consumption of 2.4 to 2.5 million tons, they noted.
The LCCI office-bearers said that potato is the important crop in Pakistan, after cereals, with a potential of earning a significant amount for the foreign exchange.
They said that after domestic consumption and procurement of seed for the next growing season for potato, the country has surplus production well over 1.5 million tons. They said that surplus production can generate huge foreign exchange for the country as there is a huge demand in Russia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Central Asia and the Middle East for the Pakistani potato, whose quality and shelf-life is better than other countries.
They urged the commerce minister to hold a consultative meeting with the stakeholders to resolve this serious issue as the country is in a dire need of foreign exchange.