In a recently published research brief, CIP/CGIAR researchers Samarendu Mohanty, Sampriti Baruah and Ravindranath Reddy explain that the potato sector in India continues to face serious problems accessing good-quality planting materials at affordable prices for small and marginal farmers in many potato-growing states.
Because seed accounts for 40-50% of the total cost of production, this is a huge burden for small farmers. In the coming season, seed costs will be even higher. The high cost of seed has led some small farmers to use discarded small-sized potato as seed in the potato growing belts in India.
Even if farmers want to purchase good-quality seed at such a high price, there is still no guarantee they will be able to obtain high-quality of seed in a timely manner because of the long distances (up to 2,000 km) seed often has to be transported, affecting both their quality and delivery.
So, how do we solve the potato seed problem, the researchers ask. They say two things need to happen.
First, a low-cost seed multiplication technology should be made available instead of aeroponic technology, which requires high capital and a long gestation period. Second, this low-cost technology needs to be promoted in the production belts so that progressive farmers, farmer producer organizations (FPOs), and other small entrepreneurs in potato-growing states can adopt seed potato production.
Accordingly, this research by CIP/CGIAR scientists pursued four objectives:
- To pilot apical rooted cutting (ARC) technology in different parts of India;
- To assess its performance and economic viability;
- To scale up ARC technology in different potato growing states; and
- To attract youth and women to take up ARC potato seed production.