Gujarat has a bumper potato crop

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Deesa (Gujarat), Mar 11 : A bumper potato harvest, thanks to favourable climatic conditions in Gujarat, has farmers rejoicing.

Deesa, a small township in Banaskantha District is one of the major hubs of potato production and trade in the country, and has registered a bumper crop.

Grown in an estimated area of 40,000 hectares of land with average productivity of 300 quintals per hectare, the total production has gone up by 25 per cent to create a sort of record in the history of potato cultivation in Gujarat.

Potatoes of Deesa are basically exported to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Middle East.

Last year, around 85 lakh bags of potatoes were produced in Deesa, but this year, the production is expected to touch 1.5 crore bags.

Apart from Deesa, the traders are expecting good supply from Palanpur, Kheda, and Sabarkantha.

"This year the cold winter conditions that extended longer for 10 to 15 days resulted in a bumper crop for the first time. One is the acreage increase, and I would say 10 or 15 per cent further increase in the yield.

Last year, the yields were destroyed by blight which has not arrived since 14 years in Gujarat. So, if you compare it with last year, there is significant improvement in quality may be to the tune of 10 to 25 per cent plus five per cent is the area increase also," said Devendra Kumar, National Manager (Agriculture), McCain, a company engaged in trading agro-production.

Although potato was not a major crop in the state initially, favourable climatic conditions, sandy loam and medium black soil, have helped jack up production by 10-15 per cent and is a major employment source for many.

There are almost 1000 genotypes of potatoes available here.

Poor harvest in northern and eastern parts of the country has raised the demand for potatoes from Gujarat. Consequently, the farmers here are expecting 7 to 10 per cent growth in demand.

"My crop output this time is over 19 tonnes per acre. In the past few years, I have produced 16 tonnes per acre. In some of the plots, the quantity produced is even more than 19 tonnes per acre. So if you see the past 100 years' record, in the entire nation, the yield has never been this much. The yield has increased upto 18-20 per cent," said Parthi Chaudhary, a farmer.

Farmers feel that the forays by global giants like McCain and McDonalds have resulted in good yield since they are banking on the farmers for processed potatoes.

McCain, has set up a single unit in Mehsana with a processing plant that has a capacity of 30,000 to prepare French Fries and other eatables. All these are processed from potatoes of McCain-1 and McCain-2 varieties.

With the bumper crop, the traders are exploring newer export markets. By Ami

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