Economy, Business And Markets

Potato Supply Exceeds Demand

Potato Supply Exceeds DemandPotato Supply Exceeds Demand

Global production of potato is increasing and there is ample capacity for activity in the related processing industry. In Iran, 150,000 to 160,000 hectares are under potato cultivation, from which between 5 million to 5.3 million tons of the crop is produced every year, the Persian daily, Forsat-e Emrouz reported.

Local farmers meet domestic demand that is close to 4.5 million tons and are annually left with a huge surplus. Market observers have routinely called for efficient and effective policies to promote export of this food crop in the increasingly segmented international market.

“Potato is highly adaptable to the environment and is cultivated almost everywhere across the country all year round. The main production centers for the crop are Ardebil in the northwest, Hamedan in the west and Isfahan in central Iran. Ardebil accounts for a third of total production and 30% to 40% of exports,” says Ali Nili with the National Association of Potato.

The NAT member says annually between 10-15% of the crop is exported to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Australia and the UAE. “Last year’s exports was more than 600,000 tons.”

Nili insists that special attention must be given to the potato processing industry since it is a lucrative business capable of creating high added value and ample job opportunities.

“Unfortunately, there is no organized supply chain, which makes it easy for dealers to interfere in the market and manipulate prices.”

Another pressing problem is the shortage of refrigerated warehouses. Farmers cannot store their output in warm seasons and this translates into monumental  waste coupled with losses every year.

Farhad Nasirzadeh, an experienced potato farmer in East Azarbaijan Province, says if the supply system is rectified and dealers are properly dealt with by the government, farmers can have a fair share of the profit.

“Production costs, including workers’ wages and transport, storage and fertilizer expenses are high and the farmer hardly gets any support (from the government),” says Nasirzadeh.

Potato is a water-intensive crop and needs to be watered every week until 10 days before harvest.

According to Nasirzadeh, if all goes well with production and harvest, every hectare will yield 3 to 4.5 tons of potato.