The total cropped area of the country reported for the year 2019, was 22.1 million ha. Out of this 65.8% was under food crops, 24.2% under cash crops, 6.7% under pulses and 3.3% under edible oilseeds. Vegetables constitute an integral component of the cropping pattern but the increasing pressure on food and cash crops has limited the area under vegetables to about 0.62 million ha, which is 3.1% of the total cropped area. Vegetables fit well in most farming systems due to shorter maturity period.
Vegetable crops are very important due to their higher yield potential, higher return and high nutritional value and suitability for small land holding farmers. Vegetables provide proteins, minerals and vitamins required for human nutrition. In Pakistan, the daily per capita intake is low, being about 100 grams compared to the recommended consumption of about 285 grams. In view of population increase, land degradation and water scarcity, there is a need to substantially increase vegetable production in the years to come and to attain self-sufficiency as well as to increase the exportable surplus. However, in the past, development efforts in agriculture sector were primarily focused on production and development of cereal crops; in spite of the fact the vegetables provide maximum output per unit area.
Vegetables grown in Pakistan
More than 35 kinds of vegetables are grown in numerous eco-systems in Pakistan from the dry zone to the wet zone, low elevation to high elevation, rain fed to irrigated and low input to very high input systems such as plastic houses. During summer and spring season, tomato, chilies, brinjal, potato, cucumber, gourds and okra are abundantly available. During rainy season, gourds, cucumber, beans, okra and brinjal are common. The winter season is the most important for growing a wide variety of vegetables including, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, onion, potato, carrot, radish, turnip, coriander, fenugreek and peas. Vegetables produced in different zones by using different production technologies during different seasons are traded across regional markets of Pakistan in order to meet consumer demand across the country. Varied agro-climatic conditions prevailing in different provinces of the country also contribute to year round production of different kinds of vegetables. Thus many vegetables can be grown and seen in the market during any season.
Area and Production
Total area and production of vegetables including potatoes and condiments, averaged about 588 thousand ha and 7612.4 thousand tones, respectively during the past ten years (2002 -12).
M.Imran Ramzan, Dr.Muhammad Yaseen: Department Extension College of Agriculture, UOS
Though subjected to annual variations, overall area and production of vegetables in Pakistan have shown an increasing trend during the past 10 years. Since 2002-03 to 2011-12, the area under vegetable crops including potato and condiments has increased from 520.9 to 611.7 thousand hectares and production has increased from 6454.2 to 8478.8 thousand tonnes.
Area, production and share of important vegetables in Pakistan
The major vegetable grown in the country are potato, onion, chilies, tomato, turnip, okra carrot, cauliflower peas and tinda gourd covering 78% of the total area under vegetables accounting for 81% of the total production (Table 3). The major share in area and production is of potato which is 30.2% and 40%, respectively followed by onion with respective share of 21.2% and 21.4%.
Produce is not in line with the international standards and internationally demanded varieties. Research organizations should develop varieties that best meet the needs of the global market. Development of varieties rich in nutrients and having resistance against diseases, insect pests, drought, heat and frost will need more emphasis and concerted efforts. Seed of promising varieties of vegetables should be produced to ensure regular supply of true-to-type good quality seed. There is a need for improving and strengthening the seed-producing agencies for better quality seed production and supply. Hybrid seed production at lower cost should be encouraged. Emerging areas of science such as biotechnology, bioengineering and tissue culture should be given due importance in research and multiplication of planting materials. Policy of vegetable research has to be focused on solving chronic production problems through development of disease and pest resistant varieties to fit into various cropping systems in different agro ecological situations. Future strategies in vegetable production must consider increasing demand for export. This has to be supplemented through crop improvement and better management practices that can increase the production to meet domestic requirements and the potential increases in exports.