Gujarat has always been entrepreneurial at the core of its nature, with people knowing when to grab an opportunity and how to bring an idea to life. Agriculture industry in the Gujarat is no different, especially as this sector has been one of state government’s several pet projects. While the state has always been known for animal husbandry, with milk and milk products being at the centre of the business, potato farming has also emerged as one of the rapidly growing sectors.
McDonald’s might have become synonymous with its fresh and crispy french-fries, but three biggest frozen food manufacturers – HyFun Foods, McCain Foods and Iscon Balaji Foods – are based in Gujarat. Especially McCain sources 85% of its potatoes from the state. It doesn’t hurt that the state has optimal weather and soil condition to grow not just a couple but several varieties of potatoes.
Government’s developmental schemes also support this industry. Just last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled Banas Dairy Complex’s potato processing and product unit in Banaskantha district. This unit has state of the art machinery and the capacity to process 48 tons of potatoes per day.
According to sources, companies taking the initiative to involve farmers and agreeing to mutually beneficial deals was also a major part of this booming growth. It is believed that contract-based farming has been the key here, not only being in interest of the manufacturers, but also upgrading the farmers’ income.
Gujarat’s potatoes are in great demand not only in the country, but also in export markets, including in the US. Santana and Frysona are the two main varieties used to make french-fries but Santana is considered the premium variety. Interestingly, Banaskantha has been the highest producer of potatoes in the country, accounting for more than half of the total yield. This district is particularly famous for its high-quality Santana potatoes.
It is amazing to note how in just a decade, Gujarat has transformed from being an importer to a major exporter of potatoes. Up until 2007, India imported an average of 6,000 metric tonnes of french-fries. However, in 2019, the country exported more than 30,000 metric tonnes of frozen potatoes, with fries accounting for 95% of them.