Chinese peanuts to be a solution to high oil prices in Pakistan
WEIFANG, March 4 (China Economic Net)- In a farm in Weifang City, Shandong Province, China, rows of verdant peanut seedlings are bathing in the sparkling sunshine with pride, waiting to contribute their fruit clusters in coming autumn.
The high-oleic-acid peanut test field of Rainbow [Photo provided to CEN]
“Look! Our seeds are rich in nutrient elements,” Dr Babar Ijaz, person in charge of overseas projects, Shandong Rainbow Agricultural Technology Co., Ltd, showed a plump peanut seed to the reporter during a recent interview with China Economic Net. Lately, Rainbow’s high-oleic-acid peanut cultivation base project was formally included in the framework of China-Pakistan agricultural cooperation by the Ministry of Agriculture of China.
“As you can see, our seed registration in Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has started. A total of five high-oleic peanut varieties for oil extraction, Runhua series have been trial-planted in Pakistan, expected to achieve fruitful results. Next, our aim is to increase the area gradually to 1,500 hectares in coming years,” Fan Changcheng, Deputy General Manager of Rainbow, noted bluntly.
“My country has a long tradition of peanut planting. Peanuts like a warm environment with sufficient sunlight, with loose and breathable sandy loam as the most suitable soil condition. Potohar region, Punjab is the best area for peanut production here,” Babar Ijaz added, “Peanut seeds contain 40-50 percent oil, and high oleic peanut oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which is not only more storable, but also lowers blood lipids. During our trial, we always focused on how the local environment can act on the quality of seeds on the whole. The varieties we selected have the highest oleic acid content, up to 75-80 percent, which means very high nutritional value.”
Overall scale of the peanut industry in Pakistan [Photo/USDA]
“Self-sufficient in peanut production means that we can reduce our import bill of edible oil,” said Muhammad Jahanzaib, scientific officer of the Oil Seed Research Program in NARC, Pakistan. Statistics from United States Department of Agriculture showed that Pakistan’s peanut planting area in 2022/23 is about 150,000 hectares, with a total output of 140,000 metric tons, and an average yield of about 0.93 metric tons per hectare. According to Babar Ijaz, such a relative lower yield needs a lot of room to be improved, “especially we need to produce more edible oil and get rid of the situation that edible oil is highly dependent on imports. If our project area can be gradually expanded, it can even improve the peanut farming ecosystem in Pakistan as a whole.”
In January, Rainbow and Beli Technologies, a well-known Pakistani agricultural enterprise, signed a large-scale planting MoU. First lot of peanut seeds with independent intellectual property rights has been exported to Pakistan. Overall, the seed germination rate of Rainbow’s peanuts is over 98 percent.
Peanut seeds produced by Rainbow ready to be exported to Pakistan [Photo provided to CEN]
As for future, Fan mentioned two major obstacles that affect the peanut industry in Pakistan: insufficient planting area and low yield. After gradually increasing yield, subsequent by-product processing also has a good prospect. We are working with the Chinese Government to establish the “China-Pakistan oilseed crops lab” focusing on the quality testing of peanut oil, and will also assist in the formulation of unified standards for the peanut oil in Pakistan. In addition to edible oil, other food processing is under consideration. Except the improvement of local edible oil structure, at the same time gradually upgrade entire peanut industry, which is a win-win situation for us and Pakistan enterprises.”