Friday, 24 April 2015

Potato shines amid agri gloom, surges to record production

LUCKNOW: Amid the gloom of severe crop damage and farmers' suicide, here comes something to cheer about -- potato production has seen a record surge in the state with a staggering 143 metric tonne yield this year. This is highest in the past decade.

According to the horticulture directorate, 109.15 lakh metric tonne potato has already reached the cold storages, which too, officials confirm, is a record. Officials at the horticultural directorate hope that the record production of potato this year would have a cascading effect on other crops and farmers alike which might keep a check on spiraling prices due to crop damage.

Confirming the figure, horticulture director HP Joshi told TOI that the previous record was of 135.76 lakh metric tonne, achieved in 2010-2011. On the storage front, Joshi said, in the same year 100.42 lakh metric tonne potato has been stored which was the previous record. The reason for this bumper crop is conducive weather condition and increasing interest in farmers towards potato cultivation, another senior official said.

There are 1,620 cold storages in the state with a capacity of 121.24 lakh metric tonne, Joshi said and added that the record production was projected by the Central Government agency National Centre for Crop Forecasting.

Uttar Pradesh was the largest producer of potato in the country with the state accounting for around 35% to 40% of the total produce, Joshi said. This year, after UP, West Bengal is projected to produce approximately 100 lakh metric tonne potato, followed by Bihar.

These states are not only the top three producers but also account for around 70% of total production in the country, Joshi said. In UP, around a dozen districts from West UP including Agra, Firozabad, Farrukhabad, Hathras, Kannauj, Aligarh, Mathura and Bulandshahar account for 40% of the state production.

In Central and Eastern UP region, Barabanki is the only district with respectable potato production, Joshi said. Of the total produce in UP, around 6 lakh metric tonne is consumed by 21 crore UPites, Joshi said.

Out of the total production of UP, around 10 lakh metric tonne goes to other states while around 17 lakh metric tonne is consumed as seed. The figures available with the directorate also point out that potato cultivation was fast catching up among UP farmers. Against 5.70 lakh hectare land used for producing 119.49 lakh metric tonne potato last fiscal, potato this fiscal is being produced over 6.27 lakh hectare of land.

Joshi said that unseasonal rain didn't have much adverse impact on potato production as harvesting of potato had already begun since January.

Round Figures

Year Land (Lakh Hect) Production(LMT) Cold Storages Stored

2010-11 5.57 135.76 -- 100.42

2011-12 5.58 123.16 1522 81.46

Source:The Times of India

2012-13 5.48 133.36 1555 83.05

2013-14 5.70 120.60 1607 76.79

2014-15 6.27 143.15 1620 109.15

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