India's potato production increased 51 per cent to 52.5 million tonnes (MT) in over a decade, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Tuesday. Its production had stood at 34.7 MT in 2008, the minister added. Mr Tomar pegged the potato output to grow about 3 per cent annually till 2050.
Addressing a Global Potato Conclave here, the minister said the production of potato rose 34 times in seven decades while the area under cultivation grew by 9.3 times.
India is the world's second largest producer of potato, after China. Together, both the countries contribute 38 per cent to the world's total potato production.
Mr Tomar expressed concern over crop losses, saying the damage to the crop currently stands at 16 per cent which needs to be reduced.
Moreover, experts and researchers will have to find a way out to develop high-quality and disease-resistant variety of potato seed which would consume less water and meet the challenges of global warming, Mr Tomar said.
He lauded the contributions made by Shimla-based Central Potato Research Institute for the growth of potato production in the country, saying that it contributed to its development since inception in 1949.
The area under cultivation grew from 2.2 lakh hectares in 1949, to 21.8 lakh hectares at present. Also, its production went up from 1.54 MT in 1949 to 52.5 MT currently, he said.
To meet the growing demand, experts said potato production needs to increase 89 per cent to 711.5 MT by 2050.
Gujarat has emerged as the second-largest producer of potato in India, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said.
Besides, Gujarat is also the largest exporter of potato contributing to about 25 per cent of the total export at one lakh tonnes annually compared to the country's 4 lakh tonnes, he added.
The state also saw a sharp growth in potato production, growing six times from 6.12 lakh tonnes to 37 lakh tonnes in one-and-a-half decade, he said.
The area under potato cultivation also grew from 38,700 hectares to 1.18 lakh hectares in the same period, Mr Rupani said.
Experts said Gujarat has also emerged as one of the leading players in the processed potato sector.