How Potatoes Ensure Global Food Security

Hemant Kaur

Did you know that potato is the third-largest crop by volume in the world as well as in India? It has a unique combination of dry matter, edible protein and energy, and comes loaded with carbohydrates and other minerals. It is consumed by 2/3rd of the global population as their staple food and is grown in more than 100 countries and over 23 states in India.

About 50% of the world’s food energy is derived from crops such as potatoes, wheat, rice, and maize. Potatoes are consumed either fresh or processed like wedges, chips, wafers, and others.

Potatoes have always played a crucial role in dealing with the food security of developing countries. Even when the world was brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand and consumption of potatoes skyrocketed. People stocked potatoes at home as they were easy to store compared to other vegetables.

Potatoes have always been a reliable food source even during these testing times like the ongoing Russia invasion of Ukraine or while dealing with calamities like famine. The demand for this humble vegetable has increased drastically during this time.

Even parts of south India, which comprises non-potato consuming states, saw a spike in demand due to its better storability factor. It became the third most important food crop after rice and wheat. Despite its significance, the potato is not named in the same breath as rice and wheat in food security assessment.

During the pandemic, the supply chain of different food products was affected. With restaurants and other food services being closed, the demand for processed potato products came down. The sudden fall in demand led to an oversupply of processed potato products. Having said this, as per the latest data from FAO, Ukraine is the third-largest producer of potatoes with around 20.8 million MT produced in 2020 alone. The ongoing war in Ukraine is likely to bring about a drastic reduction in local potato production in the country and also result in higher post-harvest losses as many warehouses have been destroyed by the Russian military forces.

So far, India has not been impacted due to this war as far as potato production and marketing are concerned. To keep up with the current pace, it is important to address structural issues like reducing post-harvest losses, incentivizing the private sector to breed new seed varieties, and others to ensure a smooth flow of agri-inputs at affordable prices to keep the Indian farmers protected from the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Along with this, we need to promote area expansion and R&D in developing a new variety.

Potatoes are abundantly produced in India with price variation within the predicted range as supply is more than current consumption. WayCool aims to improve the quality and supply, storage, and processing facilities of potato seeds all over India. It is imperative to have improved varieties, good-quality seeds at affordable prices, and a good supply chain that includes storage and marketing.

With its recent acquisition of SiddhiVinayak Agri Processing (SV Agri), a fully integrated player in the potato supply chain, WayCool is poised to completely transform the potato ecosystem in India.

SV Agri provides an end-to-end value chain for delivering farm inputs like high-quality planting materials to smallholder potato farmers in India and connects them to commercial buyers across multiple geographies. This partnership allows SV Agri to seamlessly access WayCool’s most comprehensive tech stack and supply chain expertise across the entire potato value chain – from soil to sale.

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