August 13, 2019
To protect the interest of the Punjab farmers and uphold the state’s leadership position/image as the largest potato seed producing state, the Department of Agriculture and Welfare, Government of Punjab will soon undertake certification and traceability of seed potato to ensure optimum transparency. This initiative comes in the wake of unscrupulous elements indulging in malpractice of aggregating seed potato from other states and misbranding the same as Punjab Potato seed. This has led to the loss of market for Punjab farmers at national and international level. In this regard, Punjab Agri Export Corporation (PAGREXCO) will be appointed as the outsourcing agency for undertaking traceability based seed potato certification through IT software/module.
To achieve the twin objective of traceability & transparency in the potato seed certification program, PAGREXCO would get the traceability work done through Agri based IT portal. To start with, the farmers’ data base will be digitized in addition to providing them access to technical know-how on crop planning and management, inputs, credit, post-harvest management, value addition, and improved market linkages. The centralized platform would also help to capture all relevant information through a simple mobile application and give dashboard based insights on the data captured thereby ensuring traceability of the entire value chain. Once implemented, this program is poised to become a game changer for seed potato growers as it is designed to increase profitability for the farmers and minimize risk through modern farming techniques.
Speaking on this Mr. Manjit Brar, Managing Director, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited said, “Punjab produces about 27 lac metric ton of potatoes annually and supplies about 60-70% seed potato to the domestic & global markets. Our initiative has been designed with sole intention of protecting our farmers from further financial loss. We are confident that our concerted efforts coupled with the smart use of technology can successfully stop the miscreants from their devious intentions.” Elaborating about the role of PAGREXCO, he said, “PAGREXO will ensure that this seed potato traceability & certification system is implemented from the coming potato season & they will make this project financially self sustainable. The entire certification process will be managed through a software and the certifying authority would do the due certification through the software only so that the entire transparency is maintained and there is no additional leg work burden on the farmer.”
In order to scale up this work as well as to protect the interest of small farmers of Punjab, PAGREXCO would undertake the activities pertaining to branding and certification of the seed potato of Punjab, forward linkages within India and abroad for marketing and sale of Punjab potato seed, set up a laboratory for potato seed sample testing, etc.
Punjab potato seed is unique in the sense that it’s completely disease free. They are produced in a region which is free from brown rot and ring rot, a type of quarantine disease which causes the rotting of tubers.
Punjab Agricultural University has substantial evidence based on elaborate surveys that affirms the fact that Punjab Seed potato is produced in a region which is also free from potato tuber moth. It is a pest wherein larva tunnels into foliage, stem and tubers and forms galleries near the tuber eyes. This pest is introduced to a new region through infected tubers. However, fears of such infestation cease to exist in Punjab region which produces one of the finest (pest/infection free) Punjab seed potato.
Major constraints in potato production are insects, nematodes, fungus and other pathogens which accounts for major yield loss throughout the world. Golden Cyst nematodes known for creating a devastating effect on the yield is present in many regions across India while Punjab potato seed growing region is free from this, which in turn guarantees its freedom from the pest.
In Punjab, potato cropping season is characterized by long and severe winters which facilitates in keeping aphid, a virus transmitting agent below the threshold limit. The regional weather combined with the practice of seed plot technique has kept the infestation of this deadly virus below the permissible limit thereby assuring high yield year after year.