In a major step towards boosting potato farmers’ income, the Punjab government on Wednesday decided to allow production of quality seed potato through tissue culture based technology, using aeroponics facilities.
The state cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, approved the Punjab Tissue Culture Based Seed Potato Bill of 2020, to meet the demand of potato farmers for quality seed potato, and enable the development of the state as export hub for seed potato in the country.
The move would also help incentivize potato production, leading to greater diversification by bringing more area under potato crop cultivation, according to an official spokesperson.
Currently, potato crop is grown across an approximate area of one lakh hectares in the state, generating demand of four lakh metric tonnes of quality seed potato.
However, there is negligible supply of quality seed potato from the Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla. Some of the traders are currently illegally supplying the poor quality seed potato by putting the mark of Punjab seed potato on it, said the spokesperson.
He also said, “Besides demand from within the state, there is also a demand for seed potato from outside the state, and since Punjab is bestowed with unique climatic conditions, it is favourable for virus, bacterial and pathogen-free production of quality seed potato.” Incidentally, horticulture crops are emerging as an attractive alternative under the state government’s crop diversification programme, and even though they cover only 4.84 per cent of the total cropped area to produce around 73.50 lakh metric tonnes, their share to the total agriculture GDP of the state is 12.43 per cent.