Potatoes are an indispensable part of Indian cooking. Introduced to India by the Europeans in the 17th century, it is now a dietary staple cutting across caste and class. It is now almost unimaginable to have an Indian meal complete without this humble spud. Most Indians consume potato daily in some form or the other, making it the 4th most popular crop in the country after wheat, rice, and maize.
Being an excellent source of nutrients like vitamin C, B6, potassium, and fiber and containing many antioxidants, they are always in high demand. This makes potatoes a commercial crop in India. India is the second-largest producer of potatoes, after China. The total production of potatoes in India is 22.8MT, approximately over 1.9 million hectares of land. Uttar Pradesh is the highest potato-producing state in India followed by West Bengal.
Growing potatoes is very easy and simple, and can be extremely profitable for farmers since they are cultivated all year long. If you follow good farming techniques and cultivation practices, you can produce at least 40 tonnes of potatoes per hectare. Even after successful production, many farmers struggle with finding the right marketing channels. Through this article, we will guide you on how to start selling potatoes for higher returns.
1. Contract Farming – For many years, farmers have struggled with the challenges of excess potato produce on one hand and on the other, with no buyers offering the right price. Farmers had to settle at whatever price was offered to them. Several agro-commodity trading and processing companies are now attempting to bridge the gap between farm and market through contract farming. As a farmer, you can be assured of finding a buyer and getting a pre-decided fixed price for your produce with this farming model. With contract farming, the food processing company e.g. the chip manufacturer is also concerned about the quality of the product so agronomists will inspect the seed and soil on the behalf of the company. They often provide guidance on dealing with insect diseases. Farmers across many states and towns are switching to contract farming to ditch the worries of fluctuating prices.
2. Making use of cold storage facilities – Farmers engaged in potato cultivation are definitely benefiting from cold storage facilities. Earlier farmers had to sell their produce instantly at whatever prices they got. Now, they can store their potatoes and wait until they get a good price. Getting a fair price in uncertain market conditions becomes a challenge. The cold storage facilities offer some respite from perishability issues and allow the farmer to sell on his terms- in a more controlled way and throughout the year.
3. Sell through social media – Many farmers are going the online route now. They just announce their produce on social media and customers come to buy at the farms. This is becoming more and more prevalent in metro cities where customers want to get an experience of the farm, collect their own vegetables, and know more about the quality. Through social media, you can share the story of your farm, your production practices, and the quality checks you ensure. This may be a slightly slower process to gain customers but can become beneficial in the longer run.
4. Selling on Farmsnation – As a farmer, we do understand that you do not have the time or resources to invest in marketing. In the journey of farm-to-plate, the potato passes from farmers to local traders to mandi brokers to retailers, and finally the customer. Thus, commissions are added at every stage, increasing the prices for customers while the farmer’s share remains fixed. Here’s a solution that connects you directly to your customers and lets you set a fair price. Farmsnation is an e-commerce platform where you can simply list your potatoes – the quantity, quality, pictures, and pricing and easily start finding customers. You can also find and connect with other potato farmers of your city listed at Farmsnation.
5. Exporting to international markets – Indian potatoes have huge potential given the many varieties of potatoes grown in the country. They are known for their quality and price advantage over those from other countries. However, as of now, India’s export of potatoes is quite low. As of 2021, the export of potatoes was at a value of 5 billion rupees. Countries like France, Germany, the USA, and Spain beat India when it comes to the export value even though their production is much lower. This suggests a huge potential for farmers to make profits through potato export. Farmers can earn higher rates by exporting to international markets. State governments are also putting efforts to boost exports of commercial crops like potatoes. For instance, Gujarat has been a successful example of potato export. In 2020, although Gujarat produced less than 10% of total potato production across India, it became the state with the highest share (27%) of potato export from the country.
There are also many subsidy schemes that farmers can avail themselves of for potato farming. For instance, the Madhya Pradesh government is giving subsidies on seeds, insecticides, and spray machines to potato farmers. The central government had also issued guidelines in 2020 to provide a 50% subsidy for storing and transporting vegetables (including potatoes) to prevent post-harvest losses and distress sales when prices fall. By cashing in on these schemes and finding the right marketing channels, potato farming can be a lucrative business venture for farmers.