NARC to start potato farming in the hills

Kathmandu, July 10:

To solve the production, transportation and storage problems of potatoes in the high altitude mountains of the country, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) is going to start alternative potato farming in the high hills of Nepal.

Potato is a major staple food in the high hills. Record at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) shows that people residing in high hills consume twice as much potato as those in Tarai. But its production in the high hills is very expensive and transportation is difficult, said Ram Chandra Adhikari, senior scientist at the NARC.

In the alternative cultivation, potato seeds replace potato tubers, Adhikary said, adding: “That would be cheaper and easier for the people in high hills who are practicing traditional method.” According to him, in the traditional cultivation three ton potato tubers are required to plant potatoes in a hector area, whereas 100 grams of potato seeds can replace them in alternative farming. The 100 grams seed could be bought in about Rs 2,000 and there would be no storage problem. “Transportation of the tubers from different places to the hills have always been a great problem, but 100 grams potato seeds could be carried even in pockets and hand bags,” he said. He added the seed cultivation is safer from the risk of various diseases likely to be in potato tubers.

Adhikari said the programme is scheduled to start by the end of this year. “Being the first year of the trail, we have planned to carry out the programme in Jumla this time.” According to him, agriculture development programmes and Baagbani farm in Jumla are helping them to carry out the programme locally. Data of the FAO states that potato plantation covers seven per cent of gross cropped area in Nepal, which is about 150,000 hectors. Fifty per cent of the plantation is done in the mid-hills.