The prospects of the famous seed potato of Lahaul and Spiti district appear to be bright with the state government focusing on boosting its production and marketing. In 2017, seed potato witnessed a slump in production, which further reduced prices. Demand has also dropped with bumper production of potatoes in other parts of the country.
To the anguish of the growers of Lahaul, the bumper crop of potatoes elsewhere has led to a drastic drop in demand from Gujarat, West Bengal, Punjab and Uttarakhand which used to be the main buyers.
Lahaul Potato Growers Co-operative Marketing Board cum Processing Society Ltd, (LPS) managing director Amar Chand said, “While there was bumper crop elsewhere in the country, in Lahaul the overall production of the seed potato (meant for cultivating fresh crops) was less in 2017, as compared to 2016. A bumper potato crop elsewhere also led to dwindling prices.”
He added, “This year we procured 36,000 bags (about 18,000 quintals) of disease free seed potato that fetched Rs 1,700 per quintal.”
He said they had urged the state government to allow distribution of the breeder seed supply from the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) to be handed over to the LPS. This is currently being done by the agriculture department. “With lack of mechanism and manpower the monitoring by the agriculture department was impacting the production. The LPS can take care of the shortcomings,” he said. Chand said as many as 2,000 members are associated with the LPS, which means the livelihood of 200 families is linked to them.
LPS has been a model marketing cooperative in Asia which has to its credit the distinction of supplying disease free and high yielding varieties of potato seeds to the entire country.
Newly inducted Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda said his department will work on modalities and evolve a mechanism for revival of the tag the seed potato is acclaimed for through proper marketing strategies. Proper certification of the seed potatoes will also be done, he said, adding that he will also ensure that the seed potatoes are only used for sale and not consumption.