__________________________________________________________________ 1. Background:
Potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial “Solanum tuberosum” of the Solanaceae family (also known as the nightshades). It originated from the area of present-day southern Peru and it’s now grown worldwide. Potatoes were first introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world's cuisine. It is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. Wild potato species occur throughout the Americas, from the United States to Uruguay. The annual diet of an average global citizen in the first decade of the 21st century included about 33 kg of potato. It remains an essential crop in Europe, where per capita production is still the highest in the world, but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. China is now the world's largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world's potatoes are harvested in China and India Potato which is believed to have been introduced in India in the 16th Century from there it may have reached some parts of Bhutan in 17th and 18th century. However modern way of potato production dates back to last 5 decades only. Since then Potato has become the most important cash crop for Bhutanese farmers. Now it’s grown in most area of Bhutan and the surplus potato is sold to India. Potato has the high market demand with the potential to increase rural income thereby reducing the poverty.
Potato is scientifically called as “Solanum tuberosum”. Other local names include “Kewa” in Dzongkha, “Zogtang” in Sharshpkha and “Alu” in Lotshamkha. The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. The crop is capable of providing more nutritious food from less land in less time. Potato is short duration crop that can be planted and harvested as per the requirement of cropping system. In Bhutan, it can be cultivated as a winter crop in the subtropics and as a summer crop in temperate and sub-alpine environments. As of now there are over a thousand different types of potatoes in the world. But in Bhutan Desiree, Kufri Jyoti, Yusikaap and Khangma Kewa kaap are the four main varieties. Desiree red-skinned variety is mostly cultivated within Bhutan (about 90%). The main reasons for the preference are: its excellent keeping/storing quality,
better prices and
Good eating quality.
Recent efforts to capitalize on the export potential for seed potato may lead to the adoption of other varieties, especially the variety Kufri Jyoti, which is preferred in many parts of West Bengal, India.
3. Potato Production:
i. Seed Potatoes and Seed Preparation
The seed potato is a vegetative part of the plant (not a botanical seed). Potato requires very high seed inputs, about 800-1000 kg per acre (rice = 30 kg). Size of the Seed tuber should be 35-60 grams with multiple healthy sprouts of 1-2cm. Cutting of seed tuber into prices is strictly discouraged because virus and bacterial diseases can get transmitted from diseased to healthy tuber through cutting knives and tuber contact. ii. Land Preparation and Planting
Land preparation depends on land terrain, farm size and the access to resources. Power tiller and bullocks are used for tilting the land. As potato requires a deep, loose, friable and well aerated soil, the soil should be ploughed to a depth of 20-30 cm. Ploughing and other operation should be done at optimal soil moisture condition. In slopping land where lighter soils are present, it is dangerous to make the tilt too fine as heavy rain or storms may wash away large amount of soils. In such cases the conversation practices should be done.
Planting of potatoes should be done in furrows; Seeds should be placed in the bottom of the furrow, at a spacing of 30 cm and covered with 5 – 10 cm of soil. In case of large seeds (> 100g), a spacing of...
References: 1. W. Roder, K. Nidup and S. Wangdi. (2007). Marketing Bhutanese potato – Experiences, Challenges and Opportunities
2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Common Fund for Commodities. Strengthening potato value chains-Technical and Policy Options For Developing Countries,.2010, Rome
3. Surendra Raj Joshi and Bhim Raj Gurung. (2009). Potato in Bhutan - Value Chain Analysis. Ministry of Agriculture, Thimphu.
4. Government of Nepal, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Department of Agriculture Commercial Agriculture Development Project , Project Management Unit, Final Report Product Chain Study Potato , 2008, Biratnagar, Nepal
5. Chhime Tshering and Domang. (2004). The Seed Potato system in Bhutan and the way forward, Agricultural Marketing Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Thimphu, Bhutan.
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