New Innovation: Pakistani Farmers Cultivate Perfect Potatoes on Brackish Land (15/05/2015)

On 14th April, 2015, Tuesday Netherlands Ambassador Marcel de Vink visited Depalpur, Punjab to witness the first-ever yield of salt resistant potatoes. According to a statement issued by the Dutch Embassy, ?The project is combination of Dutch agricultural innovation and Pakistani entrepreneurship. With the mutual effort of Jaffer Brothers, MetaMeta Research, Salt Farm Texel and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs planting of specially selected salt tolerant potato varieties started early December last year at test locations in Sindh (Tando Allah Yar) and the Punjab (Okara) with farmers being incredulous that such difficult salt-affected soils (>8 dS/m) and water sources were chosen. The combination of salt tolerant varieties, adapted agricultural practices and conjunctive water use resulted in a very acceptable expected yield of 20 tones of potatoes per hectare. Netherlands envoy De Vink excited to visit the successful brackish cultivation first hand. He said; ?This new innovation is truly remarkable. For a longtime, it was not considered feasible to cultivate potatoes in saline conditions. These unique potatoes are prime example of Dutch innovation in agriculture. This is a great opportunity for Pakistan and the world.? Dr Maqbool of Jaffar Brothers said; ?With millions of hectares salt-affected land this innovation is a genuine breakthrough?. Dr Van Steenbergen of MetaMeta Research added: ?The importance of growing high-value crops like potatoes in aggressive environments goes beyond Pakistan. Globally, no less than 1 billion hectares of land endures from different forms of salinity. Following this year?s encouraging trials, a larger number of locations are being developed to test the salt tolerance and to develop a balanced package of measures.?