Srinagar, July 18: The Agriculture Department Kashmir has been making gains in the production of Potato Seed Tuber (PST) at the departmental farms and reducing dependence of PST from the neighboring States.
Director Agriculture Kashmir, Chowdhury Muhammad Iqbal said although, incremental gains were recorded but the department has moved in the direction of reducing dependence of PST from the neighboring States.
“In this direction, Kashmir has ended its dependence on the neighboring States completely since two years and is producing excess quantity of PST,” he said.
As per the director, Kashmir annually produces 45000 metric tons of potatoes and approximately 2500 hectares of land is under potato cultivation.
The Agriculture Department is giving specialized training on best agronomic practices for growing agricultural crops in general and potato in particular.
The director said that Kashmir has a huge potential for becoming the production hub of disease-free and quality potatoes.
“There is availability of large land area and the favourable climate boded well for potato seed tubers crop. The maximum land area falls under 5000-8000 feet altitude is considered appropriate for potato cultivation,” he said.
The director said farming of potato seed tubers could create new employment opportunities and hill-station landholders need to introduce modern agriculture technology to make Jammu and Kashmir self-sufficient.
“Funds are being made available for farmers and create seed villages, which provide all modern technical inputs to the farmers to boost potato harvest,” he said.
The Department is introducing Chipsona variety in the cropping system which could be processed into chips that could help revive the rural economy.
The department has potato farms available at Yarikhah, Bosian, Gulmarg.
“It is a unique crop which can supplement the food needs of the countries like India, because of the fact that potato is a versatile, carbohydrate-rich, contributing maximum dry-matter, protein and other nutrients per unit area and per unit time,” he said.
The director said potato is drought-resistant and is able to thrive in diverse soils while the farmers are able to feed themselves on ever smaller amounts of land.
“Potato increase in farmers’ incomes, often due to much bigger and more reliable harvests and the potato grown in cold areas are less prone to diseases,” he said.
Talking about diseases that affect potato, he said potato plant is susceptible to at least 75 diseases and nonparasitic disorders, many of which consistently cause yield losses in potato production.
“Some of the most important diseases of potatoes are late blight, early blight, stem canker, potato wart, powdery scab, bacterial wilt, black leg,” the director said.