Alternative Crops for Pakistan and Bio-Ag Technology

By

Dr. Akhtar Khwaja PhD CPC. CP/SS/AG

K Ag Laboratories Inc. Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 54901, USA

 

The purpose of this presentation is to introduce high-tech farming techniques to grow new, high value, and cash crops for Pakistan. These crops are:

 

Ginseng, Blueberries, Kava Kava, Cranberries, Strawberries, Organically produced vegetables, Black Walnut, Paulownia, Fir trees, and many more.

 

It is very important to understand that money can only be made by selling Ag products to the countries that can afford to pay the price of the product. Additionally, there must be a demand in these countries.

 

Who can pay?  Only countries that are very rich or developed can pay.  We need to produce those crops that are popular in these countries, and they cannot be produced by their own on mass scale as they produce other crops such as sugarcane, wheat, cotton, etc.

 

Since these crops require intensive labor, our approach is to introduce these high value crops to small-scale farmers who can afford to put labor.

                                                                                               

I will discuss the importance of these crops to human health, how they grow, and how high cash returns in world market can be obtained. I will also mention which areas in Pakistan are suitable to grow these plants.

Ginseng:

 

Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolium) (ginsenocide content 8-12%): It grows in acid well drain soils of northern region; it is a high labor-intensive crop and has huge health benefits and a big market in China. Chinese use this crop as a health tonic. Ginseng tea is very popular in China; it is a spiritual root in China, and has an over 7 billion-dollar market worldwide. Ninety percent of Ginseng roots are grown in Wisconsin, USA and Canada and sold or exported to mainland China and other parts of the world.

 

Ginseng 4-Year Roots

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Medical benefit:  

 

Ginseng contains ginsenocide, B-Vitamins, folic acid, zinc, iron and other minerals.

Its benefits include lowering blood pressure, slowing the aging process, reducing stress level, alleviating the effect of menopause, enhancing the immune system, and increasing energy level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Ginseng Plant, Flower, and Seed)

 

Cultivation in Pakistan:

 

This crop can be introduced to farmers in northern and western regions of Pakistan. This crop will grow on high elevations and on land suitable for pine trees or apples.

If growing technology is introduced to local farmers, they can earn anywhere from US $2500.00 to US $100,000.00 per acre, and if the market is not very far, it can be sent to mainland China directly from our northern borders.

 

Blueberries:

 

Blueberries (Vaccinium Ericaceae): It can be grown in the acidic soil of northern and western soils of Pakistan. It is now a very important crop in western countries. For example, in Italy a bottle of 100 capsules of blueberries is sold US $11.00 and concentrate of blueberry fruits is US $65.50 for a gallon.  In Italy, a packet of 12 once fresh blueberries is sold US $12.00 per packet.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

This crop also requires very intensive labor for maintaining, picking, and required special post harvest care. It will earn farmers US $40,000.00 per acre. It is based on current world market price.

Pakistan has large work forces and a labor force that can be introduced to produce this type of high value crops that can be easily marketed internationally.

 

In regards to health benefits, blueberry (Vaccinium Ericaceae) anthocyanins and other polyphenolic contents are about 30%. Other ingredients present are Vitamins A & C, Protein, Riboflavin, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium and other minerals.  It is anti-carcinogenic, and a good source of fiber and vitamin C. It helps promote urinary and bladder health, as well as in the prevention of urinary tract infection, incontinence, kidney inflammation relief, and helps eyesight.

 

Cranberry:

 

Cranberry (Vaccinium Macrocarpon): It is also grown in very unique soil conditions; it is a cold-area crop that will be suitable in our north and western climates.  It is one of the most difficult crops to grow and it needs huge investment and technology to grow. My lab and I have helped in the development of new technology for USA and Canadian farmers for the last 20 years; the project I have completed so far has been worth US $400 million.

 

This crop grows in acidic soil and needs a large irrigation water networks; it is grown in very cold climate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cranberry Field in Canada

 

 

This crop can provide an income of up to US $50,000 /acre in an open international market; Japan, China, Germany and France are big markets for this crop.

 

Cranberry anthocyanins and other polyphenolic contents are between 10 - 15 %, and

cranberry fruit acids (including Malic, Citric, Quinic, etc.) are around 13%. It promotes urinary and bladder health, and helps prevention of urinary tract and kidney infections.

 

Stevia:

 

Stevia rebaudiana:  It is a tropical plant that will grow in Punjab and Sind river basin sandy soils. It is a natural herbal sweetener. Its medical benefits are numerous: regulating effects on the pancreas and helping to stabilize blood sugar levels in the body, to name a few. It is good for diabetes, hypoglycemia, and candidiasis. Paraguan Indians believe it lowers uric acid levels, is cardio tonic, anti-gas, and it reduces acidity and hypertension for the obese. These Indians also believe that it is a very effective plant to help in the maintenance of a perfect health balance.

 

Note: It is estimated that 30 ml (1 oz) of Stevia extract is equivalent to 3 kg (6.6 lbs) of sucrose. Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is a natural non-caloric alternative sweetener.

                                                           

 


                Field Production of Stevia                                                                                  Stevia Plant

 

Stevia rebaudiana is a herb with a sweetness 10-15 times more than sugar in its raw leaf form, and can reach up to 300 times sweeter than sugar when extracted into a concentrated liquid.

It is native to the high altitudes of Paraguay and Brazil and has been used by the native people of those areas for centuries; it is also grown in the high areas of China and Japan where it is used a lot.

 

This crop’s 12 oz power is worth US $12.00 in international market, and a pound of Stevia powder is worth US $120.00 current price. This plant is also has a huge market in Europe, Japan, and USA. This also cannot be cultivated on large scale farming such as corn or soybean. Smaller farmers with very intensive labor can cultivate and market with the help of the internet or through international brokers. K Ag Laboratories can help market this crop or provide brokers who can market this crop for growers.

 

Kava Kava:

 

Kava Kava root has its unique use in international market; the big market for this crop is in Europe and USA and Canada. These countries can pay up to US $12.00 per pound. This crop can be grown in central Pakistan and in river basin.

Kava is a member of the pepper family that has long been cultivated near the Pacific. When they learned about Kava's effects, European scientists set to work trying to isolate, its active ingredients. However, it wasn't until 1966 that substances named kavalactones were isolated and found to be effective sedatives. One of the most active of these is dihydrokavain, which has been found to produce a sedative, painkilling, and, anticonvulsant effect. Other named kavalactones include kavain, methysticin, and
dihydromethyst. High dosages of kava extract cause muscular relaxation, and paralysis at very high dosages, without a loss of consciousness. Kava is also a local anesthetic, producing a peculiar numbing sensation when held in the mouth.


Kava Kava Plant

A new craze is sweeping the country. People are flocking to health food stores to snap up an herbal elixir called kava. Now, it’s not surprising that sales are going through the roof. Who wouldn’t like a natural, non-addictive way to relieve the stress and anxiety of everyday life?

Organic Vegetables and Farming in Pakistan.

 

I will talk a few minutes about the latest farming techniques and philosophy of growing vegetables and field crops without chemical (such as fungicides, herbicides and insecticide) application. It sounds very difficult, only 20 years ago less than one percent of USA farmers produced organically, but now more than 20% of farmers are involved in organic produce and every university has major programs to help the organic farmers.

 

As the world gets smaller, the produce of one country can get to far-reaches of the world in 24 hours. Some countries have saturated their land for production, while others still have lots of virgin land, free from any chemical-base cultivation. These lands need to be explored for organic produce and the world market will pay high prices for the produce from this land.

 

In my opinion, Pakistan still has lot of uncultivated land as farmers have not applied chemicals to those regions that can be use for organically produced crop for the international market.

 

The complete method of producing organically is available on my web page or the technology can be directed accessed from me via e-mail. We will be very happy to help farmers to get familiar with this technology.

 

I will discuss a few minutes about a few trees that have a very good international market and can earn huge foreign exchange for Pakistan. These trees are Hybrid Black walnut tees, Paulownia trees and Fir trees:

 

Timber Trees:

 

Genetically superior black walnut and black cherry trees are the culmination of almost three decades of research and development. Thousands of trees had to be planted and genetically selected before the product could be produced for retail purposes. The genetically superior Black Walnut Tree was developed by Purdue University. A prime veneer log could well be worth from US $2000 to US $5000 or more in 25-30 years if past trends continue. These improved black walnut trees are very popular in Europe, Japan and in USA for veneer.

 

The black walnut tree will grow in any soil and climate under a well-drained soil condition.  It will also grow in northern and central parts of Pakistan on land that is good for field crops.

 

Paulownia trees:

 

Paulownia leaves grow to 3 feet across on one year old trees.

This commercial tree is highly suitable for growing in central and northwestern provinces of Pakistan. The wood of these trees will be future packing material in the international market because of its lightweight characteristics. This tree has several harvests and is the fastest growing tree; it may grow 30 to 40 feet in a single season in some regions of the world. It has huge benefits of bringing rain in the area. Europe and Japan have a huge market for this crop.

Paulownia Tree

 


Bio-Ag technology

 

Efficient use of natural resources and raw materials, as well as understanding how biotechnology works are the main goals of Ag and environmental scientists in this century. Understanding the bio and micro life of bacteria and nematodes can help to increase soil life and save huge input cost. For example, planting agricultural crops with bacteria, algae, and fungi will help in increasing yield and production, as wells as preventing diseases and insect attacks.

Again I will give an example of neem fungicide, which India is currently exporting to USA US $7 to $8 per gallon; organic farmers are using this fungicide to protect their crops from certain types of insects. This technology can be introduced in Pakistan and can be exported from Pakistan to other countries. Liquid fish and liquid compost, which can be introduced as a spray on agricultural fields for increasing bio activities, ultimately return up to 300 to 750 pound per acre of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium as NPK fertilizer in soil.

 

Liquid compost and liquid fish have a huge international market and can be sold in the world market. China and India are currently competing in the international market.

 

Liquid fertilizer is based on bioactivities, which will be beneficial for the plants. This technology will help to reduce 70% to 90% fertilizer use for the field crop without reducing the yield. There are various combinations of NPK fertilizer solutions; the powder form is available in the international market and can also be produced in Pakistan for the local and international market.

 

 

 

Drip Irrigation & high-tech farming:

 

Growers can improve cash flow…. drop-by-drop-by-drop. Drip irrigation is growing worldwide; it is growing because it is the most efficient way to deliver optimum amounts of water and nutrients to plants.

As we are poorly managing our canal and water resources and sometimes wasting 90% of our water resources, this method will help to conserve the water and apply it whenever the need arises. In order to implement this technology, we need watersheds or water canals, water pumps or small irrigation pumps, pipes, plastic lining, plastic water tanks with a 500-gallon capacity, water-soluble fertilizer, liquid fish or compost and equipment to prepare the field of crop production, and finally know-how.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


                                                                                               

                       Vegetable Production                                                Drip Irrigation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


     Drip Irrigation

 

Education and training:

 

Education and training are very important aspects of farming. If our farmers are not mechanically trained or educated, they will not be able to implement the technology. It is very important to have highly trained, self-motivated farmers who are willing to learn and utilize technology. The farmers in USA and Canada are highly trained personal and for the crops I have discussed, farmers today are treating it as an industry and spend lots of time in the field to learn about the conditions that are changing day-by-day during the growing period.

 

It is very important to bring young, highly intelligent, and hardworking kids into farming. Because farming is not simple - it is an art and a science - it needs highly motivated people with good backgrounds.

 

I will recommend introducing Ag faculty in all city universities and training interested kids, and making them learn more about corporate farming and project development. These young trained agriculture workers coming out having city backgrounds will find it very interesting working on farms with farmers and with landlords. You will see the great improvements in farming in Pakistan, as I saw in Brazil, USA and Canada and other developing countries. I find myself in the same category as one coming out of the city. I love learning and teaching high-tech farming around the world. Good luck.