India’s potato production is likely to be higher by 5-7 per cent this year on the back of higher acreage and favourable weather conditions. Most of the key producing districts have seen a 3-5 per cent increase in the area under cultivation this year, compared to last year.
Potato production in 2021-22, from growing areas mainly in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab and Gujarat, was 53.57 million tonnes, compared with 56.17 million tonnes in 2020-21.
According to Rajesh Goyal, President of the Federation of Cold Storage Associations of India, farmers have gone in for higher yielding varieties, as compared to the traditional varieties. UP, the largest producer of the tuber in the country, had a bumper crop last year.
“Production could go up by around five per cent as the area under cultivation is up by 3-5 per cent this year. Yields are also better due to the different varieties sown. The prevailing weather conditions are also suitable,” Goyal told businessline.
However, there is still a month left for harvesting to begin in UP, and farmers are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that the weather will remain favourable for a good harvest.
Since seed potatoes were not fetching a good price last year, farmers resorted to sowing those seeds rather than selling them, thereby, leading to an increase in cultivation of the tuber this year, he said.
Up 10 per cent in West Bengal
Unlike UP, West Bengal, which is the country’s second-largest producer of the spud, had a smaller crop in 2022 due to unfavourable weather conditions and untimely rains. The State registered a 23 per cent drop in production at around 85 lakh tonnes (lt) in 2022, as against 110 lt in 2021.
However, it expects a near 10 per cent increase in production this year, said Patit Paban De, Member, West Bengal Cold Storage Association.
Harvesting of the early varieties and some common varieties in Bankura and Midnapore districts, have commenced, and arrivals have started.
“Harvesting is yet to gain steam in South Bengal as there are still some potatoes left in cold storages. Once these potatoes are released, harvesting will pick up. But production is expected to be higher by around 8-10 per cent this year as productivity is good due to favourable weather conditions,” De said.
Untimely rains during the sowing period led to the rotting of some crops in West Bengal last year. Though re-cultivation was done on some parcels of land, it was not enough to offset the crop that was lost. However, this year, weather conditions have remained favourable so far and the industry is hopeful of a good harvest.