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Potato production and marketing in India

Every time there is a rise in the prices of agriculture products, there is much public outcry on the
inefficiency of the governments, whom we all love to blame. Well, though it is a known fact that
the middle men are the actual beneficiaries, while the farmers who actually produce the food are
the worst sufferers in the food value chain.

So, why to study potato you might ask? There are several reasons behind it. One, potato is one of
the commonest of all vegetables. In other words, it is a vital part of an average Indian’s diet.
Two, it is grown in almost all the states of India, which have very diverse climatic conditions. At
first we discuss problems which are already present –

Region wise

North North east Plateau region South Indian

India India Hills

cold The area : It covers vast areas of : This zone

waves comprises of central and peninsular India. comprise of the
and high Sikkim and This zone consists of parts of Southern hill zone
or low Darjeeling Hills of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya in Tamil Nadu.
rainfall is West Bengal. Wart Pradesh, Karnataka and Infestation by cyst
major caused by Orissa. Red sandy or fine nematodes
cause of Synchytrium textured block cotton soils (Globodera
loss. endobioticum is a characterize this area. Black rostochiensis and
special problem in soils develop cracks on drying G. pallida) is a
this area. which exposr the tubers to special problem of
potato tuber moth (PTM) and the area.
greening in sunlight.

Problems in cropping-

Seed/tuber Planting Crop protection Harvesting


• Supply is • Improper • Crop yield is • Manual

from far seed bed overly harvesting
places(Punj preparation dependent takes long
ab) and not by farmers on biotic and time
consistent abiotic
• Early crop • Still low stresses like- • Proper stage
faces high adoption of frost, fog, of harvesting
temperatur new blight important
e at techniques disease, for sound
emergence like seed nematodes production
and late plot
crop face technique • Effective • Lack of
frost chemicals to space to
• Less control pest store
• Low sugar attention to are
and high selection of unavailable • Proper
dry matter proper intervention
varities variety to control
suitable for mixing of
industries many pest –

Problems after harvesting-

At farmers field During storage Supply in market

Farmers has Improper scientific Sellers usually pile up

insufficient technology leads to stocks and wait for price-
infrastructure to store rotting of potato and hike seasons like-Navratri
produce, so distress damage by Diamond back festival
sale moth
Where do you get your potatoes from?

Period Source
January-May Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar,
Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Assam,
Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra, Orissa,
May-June Spring crop in hills and North Western
July-August Southern Hills
October- Punjab, Uttaranchal
December- Southern hills

Long term goals-

 Early maturing processing varieties for untapped areas like plateau region;

 Development of temperature insensitive processing varieties;

 Breeding varieties resistant to cold sweetening;

 Specific breeding for problematic regions;

 Development of yield and quality enhancing technologies for processing


 Finding low-cost alternative storage technology;

 Improving infra-structural facilities and developing inexpensive technologies
for the production of diverse potato products

 A comprehensive, viable and economical scheme for supplying processing

potatoes to the industries round the year

Planning for intervention


• Supply of potato seeds to north-eastern plains from nearby states

• Arrangement of disease free potato seed from CPRI

• Selection of variety according use of potato-for industries like chips, franch

fries, home consumption

• Choose varieties according recommendation to that climate, time of planting-

early ,mid, late

• Avoid areas with regular incidence of aphid attack, blight disease of rice and

Crop management

• Proper seed bed preparation

• Use of seed plot technique to reduce aphid attack

• Use treated potatoes for seed

• Green manuring application

• Proper moisture maintenance and earthing up

• Avoid soil cracking by regular controlled irrigation

• Right time of digging

• Just before harvesting avoid irrigation

• Harvesting through machines saves time

Post harvesting operations

• Proper storage of potato to increase storage life

• Promote cooperative storage

• To reduce potato sweetness spray of chemicals like CIPC which not only
provide better price but also convenient in use

• Strong transport system

• Control on piling of stock by aggregators, commission agent

Market interventions

• Promotion of contract farming can ensure farmer of regular income- Pepsi

and ITC procures potatoes for chips making

• Government can arrange for a mechanism to check wide price fluctuations

• Length of time for storage should be reduce because-

It occupies space for long time

Detioration in quality

• License charge should be reduced for store keepers

• Proper supply of pesticides, fertilisers in the market

New horizons opened recently-

Some regions like Nagrota- Bagwan of HP, Malwa region of MP, Deesa of Gujarat etc
grow processing quality potatoes and potato processors used to collect processing quality
potatoes from the regions. Suitability of potato grown in the above mentioned regions led to the
development of indigenous, non-refrigerated potato storage methods. Growth of potato
processing industries has vastly stimulated these indigenous potato storage methods where strong
linkages between the producers and processors have been established. The returns to the growers
are quite handsome ranging from Rs. 900 to 2,390 per ton for a short storage period of three-four
months during March-June. Moreover, country can also save precious energy due to
development of non-refrigerated potato storages.

Who will be change maker-

By adopting improved tubers (variety), better management and market awareness
Agricultural universities, CPRI and ICAR will develop varities for different purposes.
By ensuring better price to farmers in consumers paid money and maintaining smooth supply of
inputs and output
Private sector-
Contract farming can provide mutual benefit to industry as well as farmers.
By putting a cap on potato price and control on future market

Arun Pandit, N Panday and Rajesh K Rana,Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh,Indian
Farming Dec. 2008