Potato is an important crop in Pakistan for both consumers and producers. It is nutritious, produces high returns and there is a potential to increase yields by using good potato cultivation practices. However, a lack of knowledge concerning these is inhibiting many smallholder farmers in their effort to raise productivity. Furthermore, unsuitable management of threats, such as pests and diseases, increases losses. In this project, CABI aims to mitigate challenges faced in the smallholder potato sector by building the capacity of small-scale potato growers, and in particular women, in good agricultural practices, including the sustainable and safe use of pesticides, in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
Punjab’s agriculture growth rate has declined over the last two decades because of various challenges. These include the inadequate availability of high-yielding cultivars and lack of diversification in cultivation, inefficient on-farm water management, poor infrastructure for value chain development, weak research and extension services that are largely disconnected from market demands. There is, however, also the lack of advanced agriculture management supported by new technologies and innovations which can support sustainable agricultural growth in Punjab. This project will facilitate the rapid adoption of advanced technologies to strengthen value chains and improve the productivity and profitability of agriculture in Punjab. It will also enable further development and adoption of advanced technologies to benefit the agriculture sector while contributing to higher farmer incomes and improved livelihoods in rural communities.
Many less developed economies in Asia, including Pakistan, face challenges in conforming to international food standards and, in particular, pesticide maximum residue limits (MRLs), either because these MRLs are not established or because the MRLs are too low for farmers to comply with. Subsequently, affecting Pakistan’s ability to trade. This project brings a new approach. Based on the strategic use of non-residue-producing biopesticides, following conventional pesticides, the approach aims to reduce residues at harvest and overcome trade barriers caused by MRL issues. CABI will work with partners and Pakistani farmers to increase their compliance with international standards, MRL regulations and enforcement.