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Development of Potato in Bihar:Issues and Strategies

Singh, K.M. and Kumar, Abhay (2013): Development of Potato in Bihar:Issues and Strategies.

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Potato is the fourth major food crop after rice, wheat and maize in Bihar. It occupies less than 5% of net sown area with production only 4th after rice, wheat and maize. Potato a short duration crop has special significance since it gives exceptionally high yields/unit area/unit time and has high nutritional value to sustain burgeoning population and ward off hunger and malnutrition. Potato produces more food, edible energy and edible protein per unit area and time as compared to any other food crop. Potato provides excellent opportunities in rasing the income of the farmers as it has capacity to yield 5-10 times more than cereals, pulses or oilseeds. Efficient marketing is crucial for a successful diversification and commercialization of potato and accelerated farmer income growth. At present, marketing of potato in the state is highly unorganized. Bihar’s density of the market (per m ha of sown area) is relatively low. Potato from Bihar is transported to other market in the country for which cheap road transport and better marketing facilities are essential. Emphasis should be put on the establishment of new cold stores, processing industries in the production catchments to minimize transport cost, create employment opportunities in the rural sector. There is challenge to enhance productivity and quality under conditions of shrinking arable land, reduced water availability, changing climatic conditions and expanding biotic and abiotic stresses. However, with increase in production, recurring gluts are common in the country. The price crashes drastically during months of plenty, leading to distress sell by farmers and incurring substantial monetary loss. To absorb excess potato production and sustain the growth, there is need for diversified and increased utilization and export of potatoes. The article tries to explore the current scenario, the constraints and possible solutions for enhancing potato cultivation in India in general and Bihar in particular.

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