28th November 2017, Shimla
In a country like India where the land utilisation for agriculture purpose has reached to maximum, there is very little or almost no scope of horizontal expansion in the area where agriculture is being practiced traditionally. The western part of Rajasthan, most of which falls under the Thar Desert, has so far very little area under cultivation owing to scanty rainfall and very deep water-table. However, the Rajasthan canal has brought agriculture prosperity but it was observed that farmers of the region were not cultivating potato, though it is being consumed here in large quantity. The processing industries in this region also get their potato supply from the far off regions of Indore and Uttar Pradesh.
The modeling study carried out at ICAR- Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla, indicated that this area is suitable for cultivation of potato and for processing industries established in and around Bikaner, particularly the Bhujia industries.
For this purpose, ICAR-Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla, conducted exploratory trials at farmers’ field on 16 locations in Bikaner District in collaboration with ICAR- Central Institute of Arid Horticulture, Bikaner during 2016-17. The results of these trials were very encouraging. Out of the seven varieties tried there (Kufri Khyati, Kufri Garima, Kufri Chipsona-4, Kufri Pukhraj, Kufri Frysona, Kufri Surya and Kufri Jyoti), table variety Kufri Garima and processing varieties Kufri Chipsona-4 and Kufri Frysona did very well with average yields over 30 tonne/ha, while the table varieties Kufri Khyati and Kufri Surya yielded about 25 tonne/ha.
The exploratory studies showed that there is great potential of growing potatoes in the region with high productivity. In this region, wheat is grown predominantly during rabi season. Potato, which has slightly less water requirement than wheat, even has capability to replace wheat, owing to its shorter duration. Beside, the sprinkler irrigation system reduces the water requirement of potato, making it more competitive than other crops. These virtues of potato will not only lead to horizontal expansion of potato, but the introduction of potato will cater to the local market needs and the requirement of Bhujia industries. Potato, being a cash crop, thus may improve the livelihood of local farmers as the market price of potato is higher in this region since most the supplies come here from 400 to 700 km distance, adding not only to food miles but also cost of potato due to high transport cost.
(Source: ICAR- Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla)