In order to encourage potato cultivation that is suitable to Gujarat's agro-climatic conditions, potato processors, together with the Gujarat Cold Storage Association, have approached the Gujarat government seeking the establishment of a regional centre of the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) in the State.
The move is expected to benefit the entire value chain of potato cultivation as it is expected to boost seed innovation and development at the local level and take into consideration geographical and agro-climatic conditions.
In a letter written to State Agriculture Minister R.C. Faldu, the Gujarat Cold Storage Association (GCSA) has requested the State government to take up the matter with the Union government to allot a CPRI regional centre to Gujarat. Currently, there are seven regional centres of the CPRI, in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu.
“Without any local assistance from CPRI, Gujarat has showcased its strength in potato cultivation with better yield and superior processing varieties. Our farmers have been doing trial-and-error to achieve the best output from the seeds sourced from other regional centres of CPRI. These may not be suitable to Gujarat's geographical and agro-climatic conditions. But having a regional centre locally would be much more useful,” said Ashish Guru, President, Gujarat Cold Storage Association. CPRI has capabilities and a mandate to import potato seeds for research and development of local varieties.
“Gujarat has become a hub for processing a variety of potato. Also, with subsidy support, we have seen increased cold storage capacity. This has benefited farmers with increased income. Gujarat tops in potato exports and production of processed varieties of potato. At this juncture, a research and breeding centre of CPRI is important for the State. It would benefit farmers with the help of crop improvement, pest management, post-harvest crop management and modern technology,” Guru said in a letter addressed to Minister Faldu.
Guru added that in times of excess production, potato farmers have to throw away their crop due to non-remunerative prices. “But now the time is ripe for Gujarat to have a CPRI regional centre, which will help to develop potato varieties that can be used for processing as well as for tabletop consumption.”