Bhutan has recently experienced a significant drop in potato production, largely attributed to the ageing of potato seeds and their declining quality. According to the National Centre for Organic Agriculture (NCOA) annual report for 2022-2023, the country produced 31,146 tons of potatoes in 2022. This marked a substantial decrease of 7,427 tons compared to the previous year, constituting a 19 percent decline.
Despite this decline in potato production, Bhutan continues to generate substantial revenue from potato exports. In 2022, several major potato-producing regions in Bhutan reported lower harvests. Wangdue harvested 10,323 tons, a reduction of 583 tons compared to 2021. Similarly, Paro recorded 2,942 tons, down by 1,428 tons from the previous year, while Mongar produced 2,626 tons, marking a decrease of 1,126 tons compared to 2021.
Lobzang, the potato programme officer at NCOA, noted that to address the issue of stagnant potato yields, Bhutan has undertaken various initiatives, including the import of climate-resilient potato clones from the International Potato Centre (IPC) in Peru and potato varieties from Nepal.
These efforts have led to the introduction of a potato variety known as Yusi Maap-2 and the evaluation of biofortified (tetraploid) clones in multiple locations in Yusipang and Bumthang, aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of the potato industry and achieving food security in Bhutan.