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Zimbabwe: 'Sack Potato a Flop'

Zimbabwe: 'Sack Potato a Flop'
August 10, 2014
Production of potatoes in sacks in Zimbabwe has proved to be a non-profitable venture with farmers registering zero to one kilogram per plant, an expert said last week. A potato is a nutritionally rich tuberous root vegetable and a good source of starch, vitamins and fibre. It is one of the cheapest staplefood items for people all over the world.

The plant grows about 12 to 18 inches in length and bears many tubers underground.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said sack potato production had been a complete flop with the majority of farmers registering zero to one kg per plant.

"All I can say is it was a total flop. I think we were misinformed firstly by the information we got and unfortunately, there was no research conducted in Zimbabwe to see how effective this method was going to be," he said.

"Farmers have been registering zero to a kilogram contrary to earlier reports that a single plant can produce at least 30 kilograms," he added.

Planting potatoes in sacks was adopted from Israel and the United States. It was estimated that a farmer got the most out of a single plant and could harvest a maximum of 30kg of potatoes from a single plant.

However, sack potatoes are reported to have a bad taste compared to traditional ones, with the size even abnormal since they are produced under unnatural conditions.

"I cannot dispute the issue of taste, even I myself would not want to taste them. We heard reports saying the taste was bad and even the size was abnormal. This shows that we jumped into conclusion without verifying for ourselves whether this method could produce quality potatoes or not," said Mr Chabikwa.

"We can call them Zimbabwean-made genetic modified products," he said.

He urged farmers to return to the traditional way of producing potatoes which has always been a success as Zimbabwe has plenty of land for agriculture.

The method was introduced in Zimbabwe early last year and many people particularly in urban areas joined the bandwagon as they thought they had struck gold.
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