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China to Boost Potato Production

China will boost potato production and development of industries based on the crop as a way to improve the country's grain security and to increase income for farmers.

While addressing a recent national experience-sharing meeting on development of potato-based industries in Dingxi City, northwest China's Gansu Province, Wei Chao'an, vice minister of Agriculture, explained China, with hue population, limited land, shortage of water resources, it is very difficult to expand the area of irrigated farmland.

Wei believed that potato, with such features as to resist drought, cold and wide adaptability, has great potential in expansion in sown areas and per-unit output.

"It can, to some extent, alleviate the shortage of arable land and water resources, and add a source of food via enormously expanding potato-based industries, which is conducive to improving the grain security of the state," said the official.

The official also reckoned that potatoes had a longer industry chain in comparison with other grain crops such as rice, maize, wheat, and soybean and could reap higher profits.

"Potatoes, rich in multiple vitamins, protein, are considered as health food and are welcomed by more and more people," said Wei,"so farmers earn more through expanding potato-based industries and meet the market demand at the same time."

Wei disclosed the Ministry of Agriculture had decided to construct 10 high-yield potato growing demonstration bases in five southern Chinese regions in winter. Each demonstration base will have an area of 666 hectares where same seeds, same fertilizers, unified management and harvest will be applied.

China is hoping to achieve increases in sown area of potatoes, per-unit output and the proportion of potatoes being processed by the end of 2010 comparable to statistics for the year of 2006.

By 2010, the sown area of potatoes across China will total 6.67 million hectares, 1.67 million hectares more that in 2006, and per-unit yield will top 1,200 kg, an increase of 200 kg than the 2006 figure, and potatoes being processed will make up 20 percent, a rise of five percentage points in comparison with the 2006 statistics.

(Xinhua News Agency October 5, 2007)

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