China is the world's biggest potato producer, with output in 2007 of 72 million tonnes (or more than 20 percent of the global harvest). It is also an increasingly important global supplier, with potato exports totalling some 225 000 tonnes (raw equivalent) in 2005.
The tuber probably reached coastal China aboard ships from Europe during the 17th century and was introduced to central China by Russian traders around the same time. Production has increased nearly fivefold since 1961. Although Chinese potato output ranks behind that of maize and sweet potato, more than 80 percent of the maize and 40 percent of the sweet potato are used as animal feed. Most of the potatoes go directly to human consumption - each year, the Chinese consume 40 kg per head.
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Overview of potato production in China. Potatoes are widely distributed throughout the country in four main agro-ecological zones (Source: YAAS, 2015).
The potato is important to China not only as a staple food, but also as a source of income, especially for farmers in mountainous areas with poor soils. In northern China's Inner Mongolia and Shanxi provinces, sales of potato account for more than half of rural household earnings. To help cope with growing shortages of water and land for agriculture, Chinese scientists have proposed a major expansion of potato cultivation in dry areas, which account for 60 per cent of China's arable land.
Errors / Inconsistencies have been noted in the statistical data below. We will review shortly