ISLAMABAD -  The Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) on Potato of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has recommended improving the quality of local certified seed through tissue culture.

In a meeting it asked for establishing a National Potato Institute to enhance per acre crop output for sustainable agriculture development in the country. The initiative will not only step forward to sustainable agriculture growth but also reap economic benefit by increasing per acre yield to fetch foreign exchange by exporting the surplus produce, it added.

The VEC on Potato met here with Chairman PARC Dr Yusuf Zafar in chair also noted that due to research of agri-scientists potato seed import has reduced by 50 percent.

The PARC chairman said that Pakistan was blessed with four seasons, having ideal environmental conditions for diversified agriculture production systems. Major horticultural produce of the country are vegetable and fruit crops, adding that among vegetables potato ranks higher position regarding area under cultivation and yield. Pakistan, he said, has natural advantage of growing three crops of potato, adding that globally potato was fourth largest food crop after rice, wheat and maize.

Through planning and technical assistance, the private and public sectors in certified potato production have been strengthen, which resulted in 50 percent reduction of the import of the seed potato, he added. Meanwhile, National Coordinator Dr Hafeezur Rahman informed the meeting that potato crop was cultivated over 170.3 acres with a total production of 39.39 million tons. He said that about 5,000 varieties of potato exist worldwide, where as in Pakistan both white and red skin varieties are cultivated.