The poor potato has been around for thousands of years, but India – the second-biggest producer in the world — still needs to work hard to transform it from a mere vegetable supplement to a serious food security option.
The global view is that the poor potato can address future global food security concerns and alleviate poverty because of its rich protein and vitamin content. India, however, is still struggling to expand its use in its food system to
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh recently said that potato’s current share in agriculture GDP is a mere 2.86 percent from just 1.32 percent of total cultivable land
On the contrary, the two principal food crops, rice and wheat, contribute 18.25 percent and 8.22 percent of agricultural GDP, respectively from 31.19 and 20.56 percent cultivable area, respectively. This shows that the contribution of potato in agricultural GDP from unit area of cultivable land is about 3.7 times higher than rice and 5.4 times higher than wheat.
Rising number of working couples in India, rapid rate of urbanisation, increasing tendency of eating out, higher disposable income levels of people and important place of potato in fast food items create an ideal situation for enormous expansion of potato consumption in the near and distant future.
Estimated domestic demand of potatoes in India is 55 million tonnes in 2025, rising to 122 million tonnes by 2050. At the same time, demand for processing quality potatoes will increase from current level of 2.7 million tonnes to 6 and 25 million tonnes in the year 2025 and 2050, respectively.
On similar lines, the food demand for fresh potatoes will increase from the current 24 million tonnes to 38 and 78 million tonnes during 2025 and 2050. Although, the demand for potato seed will grow nearly 2.1 time (2.96 to 6.1 million tonnes) by the year 2050, focused efforts need to be directed towards providing desirable quality seed potatoes to all farmers at remunerative prices, Singh said, according to a government statement,
According to Singh, analysis of past experience and pattern of Indian processing industry suggests that demand for processing quality potatoes over next 40 years will rise at the fastest pace for French fries (11.6 percent) followed by potato flakes/ powder (7.6 percent) and potato chips (4.5 percent).
The actual demand for processing potatoes will rise from 2.8 million tonnes in 2010 to 25 million tonnes during the year 2050. India produced 48.0 million tonnes of potato from an area of 20.8 million hectares during 2014-15, a number that can increased it yield is pushed up.