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POTATO
Description | Overview | History | Cultivation pattern | Potato producing countries | Indian potato market | Major trading centers
Description


Potato is a starchy, edible tuber that is cultivated throughout the world and is consumed as a major staple food. This food crop occurs underground, in the stem of the plant on which it is grown. Potato plant comes from the family of Solanaceae and is long lasting in nature. These plants have got white and purple flowers with poisonous fruits and the buds appear on the potato tubers. The potato crop contains high level of nutritive value and ranks 4th among the most important crops of the world.

Overview


After wheat, rice and maize, potato is the most important food crop in the world. It contributes to almost 50% of the total tuber and root crop production. Potato has a good food value as compared to other staple food crops as it is rich in carbohydrates and also contain proteins, minerals like calcium and potassium and vitamins like vitamin C. Boiling the potatoes increase their protein content even more than maize has and almost doubles their calcium content. It is vastly consumed as a vegetable and is also used in various forms such as starch, flour, alcohol, dextrin and livestock fodder.

This vegetable is produced world wide and its production figured at 322 million metric tons in 2005. China leads the production table with approximately 23% of share followed by Russian federation and India. The consumption of potato has increased on a world level since few years. The continents including Europe, North America, Europe and South America observed a significant rise in the consumption per capita in these continents except in Africa where the consumption per capita remained stable. These trends are likely to maintain in the future according to the the various projections done.

The leading exporting country, which emerges from the import- export pattern of potatoes is Netherlands followed by Germany. The major potato exporting countries including these two countries are

  • Netherlands

  • Germany

  • Egypt

  • USA

  • Turkey

  • Poland

  • Indonesia

  • Argentina

  • Morocco

  • Russia

  • Syrian Arab Republic

  • Colombia

  • China

  • Iran

  • India

Netherlands is also the leading potato importing country in the world. The other major importing countries of potatoes are

  • Netherlands

  • Germany

  • USA

  • Algeria

  • Brazil

  • Russia

  • Egypt

  • Iraq

  • Morocco

  • Cuba

  • Mexico

  • Poland

  • Turkey

The international potato trade has now become more competitive with the entry of  many developing countries. To survive this severe competition, these countries have to adopt new and improved technologies to raise their yield levels. Some organizations like Centro Internacional De La Papa (CIP) are working on providing new technology tools and machines that are used in potato cultivation to the farmers who cannot afford them.

History

The name potato is derived from the word ‘Batata’ that comes from the Spanish language, meaning sweet potato. Potato originated in the highlands of Andes mountain range in the areas of Mexico and Peru. Poor soil quality and fluctuating temperatures mark these areas making any of a new crop difficult to survive here. Still, this crop evolved in the thin air of these areas. The Native American farmers found this wildly growing crop and domesticated it around 7000 years ago.

After Columbus discovered America, he brought sweet potatoes back to Europe but potato came into recognition with the whole world when the Spanish intruders raided a village in South America in around 1540. This new finding was brought to Spain. Potato was considered an un-Christian and unhygienic food initially and was served to the under class then. This made the way for the mass acceptance of this crop very difficult. It took about 30 years for it to spread all over Europe. With time, the world got to know the importance of this crop as a high-energy generating food that is simpler to cultivate and cannot be destroyed even when the armies march over the crop in the wartime, as it is an underground appearing vegetable.

Till the seventeenth century, it was undervalued and was considered a low profile crop. When king Louis XVI of France was arrested by Prussia and made a prisoner in the ‘Seven Year’s war’, he was fed with potatoes. This event made potato a popular food crop throughout the European countries and then throughout the world.

Cultivation pattern

Potato is a crop that doesn’t require complex processes to be cultivated. This crop is a long lasting crop though it is cultivated as an annual crop. It easily grows even on poor quality soils and unfavorable conditions. The best yield is derived when the climatic conditions in which potatoes are grown are cool with a good rainfall and irrigation system. But this crop is not restricted to cooler climates only. It is also grown in the sub tropical areas of the world like India, China etc as a winter crop.

 

To grow a potato plant, a potato tuber is sown and not the seed of the plant. In the Indian subcontinent, potato is grown largely as rabi crop. The following three crops are raised per year in the country pertaining to different weather conditions in different areas
  • Summer crop –Planting is done in the months of March and April and harvesting is done in the months of August and September.
  • Autumn crop – Planting in the months of August and September and harvesting in December and January.
  • Spring crop - Planting in the months of January and February and harvesting in May and June.

Harvesting is done either by hand picking or using the various potato harvester machines. This crop is harvested before the frosty and extreme cold weather begins and the top of the plant starts to wither.

Potato producing countries
 

The following is the list of the major potato producing countries of the world with their production figures

  • China (75 million metric tons)

  • Russia (37 million metric tons)

  • India (25 million metric tons)

  • USA (20.5 million metric tons)

  • Ukraine (19.5 million metric tons)

  • Poland (15 million metric tons)

  • Germany (13 million metric tons)

  • Belarus (8.5 million metric tons)

  • Netherlands (7.5 million metric tons)

  • France (7 million metric tons)

  • United Kingdom (6 million metric tons)

  • Canada (5 million metric tons)

  • Turkey (4.8 million metric tons)

  • Romania (4.05 million metric tons)

  • Bangladesh (3.9 million metric tons)

  • Iran (3.6 million metric tons)

  • Belgium (3.03 million metric tons)

  • Colombia (2.95 million metric tons)

  • Brazil (2.88 million metric tons)

  • Spain (2.8 million metric tons)

 China stands top at the list with around 23% of the world’s potato produce that is around 322 million metric tons. This total production makes this crop the fifth largest produced agricultural crop and the largest produced tuber and root crop in the world. Potatoes are grown over 18 million hectares of land throughout the world. The production level of potatoes has constantly increased during the last decade to rise it to pass 100 million tons mark. With the introduction of new technology, the rate of production has also grown up significantly in the Asian, African and South American continents making the international potato market competitive with the entry of less developed and developing countries of these continents.

Production of potato in India

Major potato producing states in India are

  • Uttar Pradesh

  • Punjab

  • Haryana

  • West Bengal

  • Madhya Pradesh

  • Bihar

  • Andhra Pradesh

  • Tamil Nadu

  • Gujarat

  • Assam

  • Karnataka

  • Uttaranchal

  India is placed 3rd in the list of major potato producing countries of the world. It produces around 25 million metric tons of potatoes that contribute to approximately 7.75 % of the world’s total produce. This crop is grown over 14 lakh tons of land in India ranking 4th among the countries having maximum area cultivated for potatoes. The yield rate per hectare in India is quite low that stands at 17.86 tons per hectare as compared to the productivity in the European countries that ranges between 30-40 tons per hectare.

Uttar Pradesh produces the maximum yield of potatoes in India producing a level of 98.21 lakh tons during 2004-05 on 4.40 lakh hectares of land. Though this state has the highest potato production level in the country, it does not enjoy the highest productivity level, which is bagged by Gujarat. The states according to their productivity levels are placed in the following list

  • Gujarat (22.62 tons/hectare)

  • Uttar Pradesh (22.32 tons/hectare)

  • Uttaranchal (21.73 tons/hectare)

  • West Bengal (21.61 tons/hectare)

Indian potato market


India is one of the highly populated nations in the world and to feed all of its population, no crop other than potato can make an impact. Potato is third most important staple crop in the world and is also largely consumed in India. Indian attachment with potato is not a historical one. Potatoes were not produced in India till in the 17th century, the Portuguese introduced this crop and cultivated it in Surat for the first time. Then on it spread over all of India quite rapidly.

Currently India is the third largest producer of potatoes in the world. The production level of the country hovers around 25 million tons. It produces around 8% of the world’s total produce. Uttar Pradesh produces the highest quantity of potatoes for India. Regarding the consumption pattern, India has a huge population to feed and that’s why has a large demand for this crop. As a result, there is a very small quantity of the potatoes left for the exports making India’s share in world exports insignificant and inconsistent. India just exports around 0.5% of the total worlds export figuring around 7200 tons of potatoes. The countries to which India export potatoes are

  • Sri Lanka

  • Nepal

  • Mauritius

  • Singapore

  • United Arab Emirates

  • Japan

The imports of this crop in the country are negligible.

Market Influencing Factors

  • Fluctuations in production levels in the country

  • Fluctuations in weather conditions

  • Prices of competitive vegetables

  • Demand level from the various areas of the country

  • Development stages of the crop

  • Transportation charges

  • Hoarding and Black-marketing

Major trading centers of potato


The major trading centers of potato in India are

  • Agra (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Hathras (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Meerut (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Farukkhabad (Uttar Pradesh)

  • Jalandhar (Punjab)

  • Ludhiana (Punjab)

  • Phul (Punjab)

  • Patiala (Punjab)

  • Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Indore (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Dewas (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Hoogly (West Bengal)

  • Burdwan (West Bengal)

  • Howrah (West Bengal)

The major export zones for potato in India are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. Also, potato is traded in the Indian commodity exchange namely, Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd.

 
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