The Dhanbad district in Jharkhand, more commonly known as the ‘Coal Capital of India’ is a land of abundant mineral resources and agricultural wealth. Dhanbad derives its name from dhana meaning wealth (referring to rural prosperity by virtue of its paddy produce and cattle).
This region is blessed with the waters of the Damodar and its tributaries namely Jamunia and Barakar and the Katri river, has an excellent irrigation system in place, has hot summers, cool winters and heavy rainfall in the monsoon season and alluvial clayey soil.
Though Dhanbad is better known for its paddy, maize, finger millet, green gram, black gram, chickpea, lemon, onion, mango, guava, jackfruit, sapota and rare medicinal plants, it has built up a formidable reputation in the domestic market for its superlative potato produce. Small and marginal farmers have found success in potato cultivation with several companies and processing plants purchasing their produce to prepare value-added products like French fries, potato chips, aloo tikki, aloo patties and others.
Farmers generally grow the high-yielding Kufri Sadabahar, Kufri Kanchan, Kufri Pukhraj and native varieties. These are medium to large in size, light in colour and suitable for late rainy season cultivation. Both the state and central government have been actively educating the farmers on the importance of soil enrichment and soil water conservation using organic, zero and natural farming techniques and intercropping. These will go a long way in increasing production per hectare and average annual production, replenishing the soil and crop diversification and intensification.
This cash crop has empowered the rural economy and the establishment of more factories under the central schemes will generate employment on a large scale at the local level. Projects to grow sugar-free potato (Kufri Chipsona-3), chips-making potato (Kufri Frysona), heat-tolerant and/or disease – and pest – resistant short-duration adapted potato varieties for both rabi and kharif seasons are underway with phenomenal success. This will help the farmers move from the traditional methods of farming to new methods of scientific farming using improved seeds.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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