FDI: Sushmaji, Big Mac's potatoes come from Gujarat

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Sushma Swaraj Press Meet
New Delhi, Dec 5: Swadeshi votary Sushma Swaraj is a good orator and speaks convincingly on host of subjects.

However, Sushma seems to have slipped on facts about McDonald's as she took on the government on FDI. The Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha said on Tuesday (Dec 4) that Big Mac never bought potatoes from Indian farmers. "Ask McDonald's about their fries. They never buy potatoes from local Indian farmers, saying the potatoes are too small here."

Sushmaji, McDonald buys its potatoes from Gujarat and its pity that nobody from the party informed about this even though your party is in power. The chatpata fact is that Gujarat's Deesa and Kheda contribute to the making of McDonald's 'Chatpatey' Potato Wedges.

Swaraj said that the American fast-food giant does not source even basic commodities such as potatoes from within India.

McDonald's has refuted the BJP leader and said, "We confidently and proudly state that ingredients used in our products are sourced locally that includes the French fries. We import only on rare occasions when local supplies run out."

Vikram Bakshi, MD at McDonald's India, said his company was honouring a prior investment commitment that it would source its entire raw materials from the country.

"Being committed to quality, we have stringent standards for the kind of potatoes we use for French fries; they have to be of a certain length, have high solid content and low moisture content," the press statement said. "When we began developing our business in India, there were no process grade potato varieties available in India; only table grade variety of potato was grown," it added.

The company website says, in Gujarat (specifically the towns of Deesa and Kheda), they interact with agronomists and field assistants to demonstrate the best practices - right from better agronomy techniques like irrigation system, sowing seed treatments, planting methods, fertilizer application programmes and better storage methods for the produce. In addition to this, the farmers also benefit through incremental monetary gains as they sell directly to McCain Foods Pvt. Ltd instead of commission agents. The result of these efforts has been that now the Gujarat potato crop has been utilised to make McDonald's 'Chatpatey' Potato Wedges.

Sushma Swaraj, who was recently in Gujarat for campaigning, would be happy to know that to enhance shelf-life of potatoes, Gujarat will soon have its first potato dehydration centre in Palanpur town with a handling capacity of 500 kg per hour.

Palanpur town accounts for the highest potato output in the state.

"A potato dehydration centre has been planned for Deesa near Palanpur, the potato hub of the state. It shall have state-of-the-art machinery to be imported from overseas (possibly Switzerland), which can enhance shelf-life of potatoes," Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation (GAIC) MD NK Singh had said in June this year.

Even PepsiCo India, the largest snacks player in the country, sources all its potato requirement from within the country and works with over 24,000 farmers across nine states including West Bengal, Punjab, Gujarat, UP, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar.

PepsiCo works with farmers, technical expertise, facilitating loans from banks, providing quality seeds and harvesting expertise.

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