Profitability and Productivity of Potato Cultivation in Nepal.
Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is the most important world’s leading cash crop by virtue of its inherent potential for tonnage production, remunerative income and good nutritional values. It is one of the important commercial cash crops to address food insecurity and reduce poverty among smallholder farmers in the developing countries like Nepal. Nepal is one of the top twenty countries where potato contributes substantially for the human diet. Potato is the fourth most important staple crop after rice, maize and wheat in Nepal (MOAD 2018/19). Its cultivation is almost reported in 77 districts of Nepal from the southern terai at an altitude of 100m mean above sea level to the northern mountains as high as 4000m masl. Its cultivation is popular among farmers due to wider adaptability, high yield potential and high demand which contributes about 6.4% and 2.17% in AGDP and GDP respectively. The productivity of potato in Nepal is 16.05 mt/ha in 193,997 ha area according to MoALD 2018/19 which is low in comparison to the recommended varieties.
The different varieties of potato found to be grown in Nepal are: Cardinal, TPS, Khumal rato, Arun gold, Kanpure, Lal gulab, C40, etc. Most of these improved varieties are high yielding than local varieties; adoption of improved varieties can greatly enhance economic status of farmers and national potato production. Potatoes are used as subsidiary food as a part of vegetables in Terai region whereas staple food in Hill and Mountain regions. The demand of potato in the form of chips, fries and mashed potatoes has widened scope which helps to uplift the economic conditions of smallholder farmers. The productivity of potato can be increased by the use of scientific technology which helps in food security.
There are many reasons for the low productivity of potato in Nepal. The major problems in potato production need to be identified prioritized and should be provided the appropriate solutions. Unavailability of quality seeds, lack of fertilizers at right time, shortage of labor, poor marketing, lack of cold storage, no purchase by the government, delay payment by traders, lack of technical knowledge on pest management and topographical barriers are the major problems seen in potato cultivation in Nepal which hindering the higher yield. The production could be increased by minimizing or mitigating these problems which could be commercial for improving livelihood of potato farmers.