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Potatoes are the staple food for millions

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Ismat Sabir

The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial nightshade Solana tuberous. In many contexts, potato refers to the edible tuber, but it can also refer to the plant itself. Common or slang terms include tater, tattie and spud. Potatoes were introduced to Europe in the second half of the 16th century by the Spanish. Today they are a staple food in many parts of the world and an integral part of much of the world’s food supply. As of 2014, potatoes were the world’s fourth largest food crop after maize (corn), wheat, and rice.
Potatoes approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. The skin of creamer potatoes is waxy and high in moisture content, and the flesh contains a lower level of starch than other potatoes. By which the skin of the potato becomes resistant to skinning damage. Potato tubers may be susceptible to skinning at harvest and suffer skinning damage during harvest and handling operations. Curing allows the skin to fully set and any wounds to heal. Wound-healing prevents infection and water-loss from the tubers during storage. Curing is normally done at relatively warm temperatures 50 to 60 °F (10 to 16 °C) with high humidity and good gas exchange if at all possible.
Storage
Storage facilities need to be carefully designed to keep the potatoes alive and slow the natural process of decomposition, which involves the breakdown of starch. It is crucial that the storage area is dark, ventilated well and, for long-term storage, maintained at temperatures near 4 °C (39 °F). For short-term storage, temperatures of about 7 to 10 °C (45 to 50 °F) are preferred.
On the other hand, temperatures below 4 °C (39 °F) convert the starch in potatoes into sugar, which alters their taste and cooking qualities and leads to higher acrylamide levels in the cooked product, especially in deep-fried dishes. The discovery of acrylamides in starchy foods in 2002 has led to international health concerns. They are believed to be probable carcinogens and their occurrence in cooked foods is being studied for potentially influencing health problems.
Under optimum conditions in commercial warehouses, potatoes can be stored for up to 10 12 months. The commercial storage and retrieval of potatoes involves several phases: first drying surface moisture; wound healing at 85 percent to 95 percent to relative humidity and temperatures below 25 °C (77 °F); a staged cooling phase; a holding phase; and a reconditioning phase, during which the tubers are slowly warmed. When stored in homes unrefrigerated, the shelf life is usually a few weeks.
Yield
The world dedicated 18.6 million ha (46 million acres) in 2010 for potato cultivation. The average world farm yield for potato was 17.4 ton per hectare, in 2010. Potato farms in the United States were the most productive in 2010, with a nationwide average of 44.3 per hectare. United Kingdom was a close second. New Zealand farmers have demonstrated some of the best commercial yields in the world, ranging between 60 and 80 ton per hectare.
There is a big gap among various countries between high and low yields, even with the same variety of potato. Average potato yields in developed economies ranges between 38 to 44 ton per hectare. China and India accounted for over a third of world’s production in 2010, and had yields of 14.7 and 19.9 ton per hectare respectively. The yield gap between farms in developing economies and developed economies represents an opportunity loss of over 400 million ton of potato, or an amount greater than 2010 world potato production. Potato crop yields are determined by factors such as the crop breed, seed age and quality, crop management practices and the plant environment. Improvements in one or more of these yield determinants, and a closure of the yield gap, can be a major boost to food supply and farmer incomes in the developing world.
Uses
Potatoes are prepared in many ways: skin on or peeled, whole or cut up, with seasonings or without. The only requirement involves cooking to swell the starch granules. Most potato dishes are served hot but some are first cooked, and then served cold, notably potato salad and potato chips (crisps). Common dishes are: mashed potatoes, which are first boiled (usually peeled), and then mashed with milk or yogurt and butter; whole baked potatoes; boiled or steamed potatoes; French fried potatoes or chips; cut into cubes and roasted; scalloped, diced, or sliced and fried (home fries); grated into small thin strips and fried grated and formed into dumplings, Rösti or potato pancakes.
Other than for eating
Potatoes are also used for purposes other than eating by humans, for example:
n Potatoes are used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka, poitín, or akvavit.
n They are also used as fodder for livestock. Livestock-grade potatoes, considered too small and/or blemished to sell or market for human use but suitable for fodder use, have been called chats in some dialects. They may be stored in bins until use; they are sometimes ensiled. Some farmers prefer to steam them rather than feed them raw and are equipped to do so efficiently.
n Potato starch is used in the food industry as a thickener and binder for soups and sauces, in the textile industry as an adhesive, and for the manufacturing of papers and boards.
n Maine companies are exploring the possibilities of using waste potatoes to obtain polylactic acid for use in plastic products; other research projects seek ways to use the starch as a base for biodegradable packaging.
n Potato skins, along with honey, are a folk remedy for burns in India. Burn centers in India have experimented with the use of the thin outer skin layer to protect burns while healing.
n Potatoes have been delivered with personalized messages as a novelty. Potato delivery services include Potato Parceland Mail a Spud.
Latin America
Peruvian cuisine naturally contains the potato as a primary ingredient in many dishes, as around 3,000 varieties of this tuber are grown there. Some of the more notable dishes include boiled potato as a base for several dishes or with ají-based sauces like in Papa a la Huancaína or ocopa, diced potato for its use in soups like in cau cau, or in Carapulca with dried potato (papa seca). Smashed condiment potato is used in causa Limeña and papa rellena. French-fried potatoes are a typical ingredient in Peruvian stir-fries, including the classic dish lomo saltado.
Europe
In the UK, potatoes form part of the traditional staple, fish and chips. Roast potatoes are commonly served as part of a Sunday roast dinner and mashed potatoes form a major component of several other traditional dishes, such as shepherd’s pie, bubble and squeak, and bangers and mash. New potatoes may be cooked with mint and are often served with butter.
In Germany, Northern and Eastern Europe (especially in Scandinavian countries), Finland, Poland, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, newly harvested, early ripening varieties are considered a special delicacy. Boiled whole and served un-peeled with dill, these new potatoes are traditionally consumed with Baltic herring. Puddings made from grated potatoes (kugel, kugelis, and potato babka) are popular items of Ashkenazi, Lithuanian, and Belarusian cuisine. German friesand various version of Potato salad are part of German cuisine. Bauernfrühstück(literally farmer’s breakfast) is a warm German dish made from fried potatoes, eggs, ham and vegetables.
Cepelinai is Lithuanian national dish. They are a type of dumpling made from riced potatoes and usually stuffed with minced meat, although sometimes dry cottage cheese (curd) or mushrooms are used instead. In Western Europe, especially in Belgium, sliced potatoes are fried to create frieten, the original French fried potatoes. Stamppot, a traditional Dutch meal, is based on mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables. A traditional Canary Islands dish is Canarian wrinkly potatoes or papa’s arrugadas. Tortilla de patatas (potato omelette) and patatas bravas (a dish of fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) are near universal constituent of Spanish tapas.
North America
In the US, potatoes have become one of the most widely consumed crops and thus have a variety of preparation methods and condiments. French fries and often hash browns are commonly found in typical American fast-food burger “joints” and cafeterias. One popular favorite involves a baked potato with cheddar cheese (or sour cream and chives) on top, and in New England “smashed potatoes” (a chunkier variation on mashed potatoes, retaining the peel) have great popularity. Potato flakes are popular as an instant variety of mashed potatoes, which reconstitute into mashed potatoes by adding water, with butter or oil and salt to taste. A regional dish of Central New York, salt potatoes are bite-size new potatoes boiled in water saturated with salt then served with melted butter. At more formal dinners, a common practice includes taking small red potatoes, slicing them, and roasting them in an iron skillet. Eating latkes (fried potato pancakes) is common during the festival of Hanukkah.
Potato grading for Idaho potatoes is performed in which No. 1 potatoes are the highest quality and No. 2 are rated as lower in quality due to their appearance (e.g. blemishes or bruises, pointy ends). Potato density assessment can be performed by floating them in brines. High density potatoes are desirable in the production of dehydrated mashed potatoes, potato crisps and French fries.
South Asia
In South Asia, the potato is a very popular traditional staple. In India, the most popular potato dishes are aloo ki sabzi, batata vada, and samosa, which is spicy mashed potato mixed with a small amount of vegetable stuffed in conical dough, and deep fried. Potatoes are also a major ingredient as fast food items, such as aloo chaat, where they are deep fried and served with chutney. In Northern Indiaa, alu dum and alu paratha are a favourite part of the diet; the first is a spicy curry of boiled potato, the second is a type of stuffed chapati.
A dish called masala dosa from South India is very notable all over India. It is a thin pancake of rice and pulse paste rolled over spicy smashed potato and eaten with sambhar and chutney. Poori in south India in particular in Tamil Nadu is almost always taken with smashed potato masal. Other favourite dishes are alu tikki and pakoda items.
Vada pav is a popular vegetarian fast food dish in Mumbai and other regions in the Maharashtra in India. Aaloo posto (a curry with potatoes and poppy seeds) is immensely popular in East India, especially Bengal. Although potatoes are not native to India, it has become a vital part of food all over the country especially North Indian food preparations. In Tamil Nadu this tuber acquired a name based on its appearance ‘urulai-k-kizhangu’ meaning cylindrical tuber.
The Aaloo gosht, Potato and meat curry, is one of the popular dishes in South Asia, especially in Pakistan.
East Asia
In East Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, rice is by far the predominant starch crop, with potatoes a secondary crop, especially in China and Japan. However, it is used in northern China where rice is not easily grown, with a popular dish being), made with green pepper, vinegar and thin slices of potato. In the winter, roadside sellers in northern China will also sell roasted potatoes. It is also occasionally seen in Korean and Thai cuisines.
Cultural Significance
During the late 19th century, numerous images of potato harvesting appeared in European art, including the works of Willem Witsen and Anton Mauve.
Van Gogh’s 1885 painting The Potato Eaters portrays family eating potatoes. Van Gogh said he wanted to depict peasants as they really were. He deliberately chose coarse and ugly models, thinking that they would be natural and unspoiled in his finished work.
In Popular Culture
Invented in 1949, and marketed and sold commercially by Hasbro in 1952, Mr. Potato Head is an American toy that consists of a plastic potato and attachable plastic parts, such as ears and eyes, to make a face. It was the first toy ever advertised on television.
Potato production in Pakistan
Potato (Solanum tuberous) is world’s most important crop being grown on more than 18 million hectares all around the world. After wheat, maize and rice it is most important crop. The potato is the world’s most important root and tuber crop worldwide. More than 125 countries grow the potato and more than 1 billion people daily use it in any form. Potato is symbol of survival for thousands of people. Often it is said if there are no potatoes world has to face food insecurity. Potato got very popular among developing countries due to its easy cultivation, nutritive value, yield and easy handling. Developing countries are now the world’s biggest producers and importers of potatoes and potato products. Potato is used as human food directly or fresh use as food, snacks or processed potato, starches and animal feed. The development of an economically profitable, vibrant and ultimately sustainable potato subsector in developing countries totally dependent on measures to overcome a number of persistent constraints. With the improvement in the quality of planting material, potato varieties use less water, having greater resistance to insect pests and diseases and resilience in the face of climate changes and farming systems that make more sustainable use of natural resources all are measures included in good potato production. Not least, agricultural development and potato development in general requires authorization of small farmers through improved access to production inputs, credit and markets. These strategies present a compilation of potato management practices in use in tropical and subtropical developing countries that have helped increase potato productivity and ultimately potato production. They can be distinguished to address particular conditions in precise locations. The publication provides indicators of sustainability, and highlights potential areas of enhancement for potato development. While aimed mainly at decision makers, the manual tries as much as possible to use language aware to farmers.
All around the world especially in Pakistan the Potato demand is being shifted from fresh to process. Although it is being used as fresh but demand for processed potato is increasing day by day. In Pakistan on an average 4 million ton potato (fine and coarse) is produced in major potato growing areas. More than 2 lac ton is processed by 2,3 leading companies including PepsiCo (fritolays), United Snacks (Kashmir Banaspati), Candyland and Kurleez.
Potato is also being processed at small scales industries at towns at city level i.e. fry-chicks, Mcdonalds, KFC and also by vendor companies kims etc. Big potato processing companies are expending their business to new potato areas which is good step for sustaining production. As like sugar cane and cotton potato is also considered as cash crop. These companies are playing a role in market stability; while they are moving to no potato areas with development and awareness to farmers it will be a good step for country economy. As an example Multan is not a true potato zone Pepsico moved to Multan now farmers are adopting potato in their cropping system.
They are also establishing their processing unit at Multan for ease of access. As this is a good step for improving the economy of the farmers it also will sustain the economy of the nation. They also shifted to Jehlam, Gilgit and Gojra. Now farmers are getting edge of a multinational company which is providing better price as compared to market. It is beneficial for overall well-being of these regions.
Before expanding their business to these new areas they and their market competitor were just on only focusing on Depalpur, Kasur, Sahiwal, Arif Wala and Chichawatni but now their attention has been diverted and competitors are also focusing on these areas.
In potato growing areas it is sown after maize and rice. It is very rare when it is cultivated in fallow land. As it is well known present food requirement for food is increased and farmer is not willing at any cost to left his field vacant for even one or two months. As due to lack of resources and awareness no organic matter is being added to soil, even rice straws are burnt due to hurry of sowing. Maize is extremely exhaustive crop and rice is also exhaustive. After rice or maize potato is also exhaustive cop, while there are no organic matter addition soils are being degraded day by day, due to intense cropping system. There must be some research and awareness regarding soil degradation in potato maize cropping system. Research should be conducted in effects and benefits of green manuring in these systems. Focus should be given while we are degrading our thousand acres of precious land.
Potato is also an important food crop in Pakistan
Potato is also one of the most important crops in Pakistan, after cereals with a potential of earning a significant amount for foreign exchange. After meeting the domestic consumption and procurement of seed for the next growing season, the marketable surplus averages well over 1 million ton.
Potato has been an important food crop for growers and consumers not only in Pakistan but all over the globe. It is a crop that can generate high production and more income with more nourishing value. It attained its high rank among the most important crops due to its high volume of production and benefits. Its high returns attract the farmer to cultivate more and more. Globally it is playing a key role in food security and rising as a big source against hunger. It is assuming that one day it will be a leading crop and the hunger from the earth will be eaten by it.
In Pakistan, at the time of independence the total area under potato cultivation was about 3,000 hectares and now the figure has jumped high and it has increased to 179,300 hectares. Increase in area under cultivation shows that how much our farmers are interested to grow potato.
Freshly harvested potato tubers contain about 79 percent moisture contents and 21 percent dry matter. Of total dry matter about 60-80 percent is starch in the form of amylose and amylopectin. Its nutritional value can be revealed by the presence of vitamins (B1, B2 and B6), minerals (potassium, phosphorus and magnesium), falate, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. In addition to this research activities explored its medicinal value. Presence of soluble and insoluble fibers help in pre-venting constipation, protect from colon cancer and decrease absorption of dietary cholesterol which leads to lower plasma LDL cholesterol. Recent studies suggest that flavonoids, antioxidants and querceton present in potato tubers have anti-cancer and cardio-protective properties and also protect our human body from
Starch from potato tubers is extensively used in paper, wood, textile and pharmaceutical industry where it is used as binder, texture, and adhesive and filler agent. Oil drilling firms make use of potato starch for washing the boreholes. Tubers may contain toxic alkaloids as solanine and chaconine. Formation of solanine in tubers is indicated by greenish discoloration with sprouts on potato skin.
In Pakistan potato cultivation is categorized in three growing seasons as spring, summer and autumn crop with different geographical locations. In spring season it is grown in plains and lower hills of Balochistan and KPK province in January-February with harvesting in April-May. Summer crop is sown in northern hilly areas and Azad Jammu and Kashmir in March-May with harvesting in August-September. Autumn sowing is done in plains and southern Punjab, Sindh and plains of Balochistan in September-October and harvesting is done January-February. In total annual production, share of spring, summer and autumn crop is 7-10 percent, 15-20 percent and 70-75 percent respectively. For total area under cultivation for potato, share of Punjab is 83 percent, Sindh is 1 percent, KPK is 10 percent and Baluchistan is 6 percent. Punjab has highest share for production and area which is con-tributed by autumn and spring crop. Major potato producing districts in Punjab are Okara, Sahiwal, kasur, Sialkot, Sheikhupura, Narowal, Lahore, Pakpattan, Jhang, Tobe Tek Singh and Gujranwala, in KPK are Nowshera, Dir and Mansehra, in Baluchistan are Pishin, Kila Saaifulla and Kalat.
Pakistan is a large potato producing country yet per hectare yield is only 19.34 ton which is about 45.66 ton lower than that of developed countries as USA and Holland where average per hectare yield is 65 ton and 45.5 ton, respectively. About 5000 varieties of potato exist worldwide. In Pakistan both white and red skin varieties are cultivated but red skinned are mostly liked by consumers.
World Production
Potatoes are vegetables but they contain a lot of starch (carbohydrates) that make them more like rice, pasta and bread in terms of nutrition. Globally potato is fourth largest food crop after rice, wheat and maize. China is the top country on global scale for potato production where 95.99 million ton was harvested in 2016. India produced 45.34 million ton of potato in 2016. Despite health concerns, potato chips are one of the most common snack foods in the world with billions of packets being consumed every year.
Exports
Surplus potato produced locally is exported to UAE, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Qatar Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In 2015-16, 402, 43 ton potato was exported to above mentioned countries and about Rs.8.42 billion export revenue is generated by potato yearly. Russia is another big market where demand of Pakistani potato is on rise. Export of potato from Pakistan increased from Rs10.29 billion in 2014-15 to Rs402.43 billion in 2015-16. Country wise exports of potato from Pakistan. India has always been playing an active player in the field and is expanding both production and export of potato internationally and regionally. The situation is thought provoking for Pakistan, particularly.
World exports
Global sales from potatoes exports by country amounted to US$3.7 billion during 2016 for products in their raw form, while the value of shipments for prepared or preserved potatoes including frozen French fries represents an additional $8.5 billion. Overall, the value of raw potatoes exports increased in value by an average 7.6 percent for all exporting countries since 2012 when raw potatoes shipments were valued at $3.5 billion. Total prepared or preserved potatoes shipments depreciated by 9.9 percent over the same 5 year period. Dollar value worth of unprocessed raw potatoes during 2016.
Future Prospects
Potato is one of the principal cash crops of Pakistani farmers and the primary exportable horticulture commodities from the country. It is the fourth most significant crop in term of bulk of production. Pakistan has become self-sufficient in potato production for its domestic use and seed development. More than 95pc seed for potato cultivation produced locally. Punjab produces almost 90 percent of the potato crop. Potato is sown here on around half a million acres with chances of better exports and profitable returns.
Enhancement in the production of potato is just due to the application of modern technologies and utilization of new seed varieties. White potatoes and the red potatoes are the major contributors in potato production by volume in Pakistan. Potato is exported to UAE, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Qatar Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Due to the application of modern techniques in the production of potato, Pakistan is not only fulfilling its requirements for local consumption but it is also exporting potato.
Potato production in Pakistan
Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan. World’s most important crop being grown on more than 18 million hectares all around the world. After wheat, maize and rice it is most important crop. The potato is the world’s most important root and tuber crop worldwide. More than 125 countries grow the potato and more than 1 billion people daily use it in any form. Potato is symbol of survival for thousands of people. Often it is said if there are no potatoes world has to face food insecurity. Potato got very popular among developing countries due to its easy cultivation, nutritive value, yield and easy handling. Developing countries are now the world’s biggest producers and importers of potatoes and potato products. Potato is used as human food (directly or fresh use as food, snacks or processed potato, starches and animal feed. The development of an economically profitable, vibrant and ultimately sustainable potato subsector in developing countries totally dependent on measures to overcome a number of persistent constraints.
With the improvement in the quality of planting material, potato varieties use less water, having greater resistance to insect pests and diseases and resilience in the face of climate changes and farming systems that make more sustainable use of natural resources all are measures included in good potato production. Not least, agricultural development and potato development in general requires authorization of small farmers through improved access to production inputs, credit and markets. These strategies present a compilation of potato management practices in use in tropical and subtropical developing countries that have helped increase potato productivity and ultimately potato production. They can be distinguished to address particular conditions in precise locations. The publication provides indicators of sustainability, and highlights potential areas of enhancement for potato development. While aimed mainly at decision makers, the manual tries as much as possible to use language aware to farmers.
All around the world especially in Pakistan the Potato demand is being shifted from fresh to process. Although it is being used as fresh but demand for processed potato is increasing day by day. In Pakistan on an average 4 million ton potato (fine and coarse) is produced in major potato growing areas. More than 2 lac tons is processed by 2, 3 leading companies including PepsiCo (fritolays), United Snacks (Kashmir Banaspati), Candyland and Kurleez.
Potato is also being processed at small scales industries at towns at city level i.e. fry chicks, McDonalds, KFC and also by vendor companies kims etc. Big potato processing companies are expending their business to new potato areas which is good step for sustaining production. As like sugar cane and cotton potato is also considered as cash crop. These companies are playing a role in market stability; while they are moving to no potato areas with development and awareness to farmers it will be a good step for country economy.
As an example Multan is not a true potato zone PepsiCo moved to Multan now farmers are adopting potato in their cropping system. They are also establishing their processing unit at Multan for ease of access. As this is a good step for improving the economy of the farmers it also will sustain the economy of the nation. Before expanding their business to these new areas they and their market competitor were just on only focusing on Depalpur, Kasur, Sahiwal, Arif Wala and Chichawatni but now their attention has been diverted and competitors are also focusing on these areas.In potato growing areas it is sown after maize and rice. Some progressive farmers are doing green manuring at experimental level. But this is .001 percent, negligible. Awareness regarding green manuring and restorative crop should be developed.