Shimla, Oct 20 (IANS) As the potato harvest draws to a close in the high mountains of the Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh, farmers are pleased with a bumper crop this year.
'The production has already crossed 150,000 bags (of 80 kg each),' said Norbu Borogapa, who heads the Lahaul Potato Growers Cooperative Society.
The production was around 125,000 bags last year.
The bumper crop has been achieved although the area under potato cultivation has been shrinking in Lahaul. The higher yield is attributed to good rains in the summer in a valley that is usually dry.
The potato varieties grown in Lahaul are in great demand as they are disease-free although in recent years there has been criticism that the Lahual farmers have not maintained the quality and are mixing disease-prone varieties from the plains in their crop.
Every autumn buyers and potato farmers from West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and other states gather in large numbers at the edge of the resort town of Manali.
A large part of the seed potato is stocked at Manali after being transported across the precarious 13,000-foot-high Rohtang pass which can often abruptly close due to sudden autumn snowfalls.
'We have fixed the rate of Kufri Chandermukhi potato variety at Rs.1,025 per bag,' said Borongapa.
Rates of Kufri Jyoti and Shefodi are yet to be decided by the state government.