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University in India to train farmers in potato processing methods

Giving impetus to its efforts towards helping potato farmers dealing with the current financial crunch in the potato industry, the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) is organising a training programme on potato processing techniques from January 29 to 31 this year.

This is to teach farmers how to develop several value-added products from potatoes. The department is focusing on low-cost technologies which can be adopted at farms and at household level.

Dr Poonam Sachdev, Head of the Department of Food Science and Technology, said Punjab is the 6th largest potato producing state in India, contributing roughly 5.3 per cent of total production in the country. She says that since potato was a perishable commodity, inadequate storage, handling and the lack of acceptable processing grade potatoes in the country result in frequent gluts in the market which no doubt cause economic losses for farmers and wastage of precious food.

“In such situations, it really becomes a challenge to help farmers realize even input costs for potato cultivation and production. In view of this situation, the Department of Food Science and Technology developed technologies for the production of low-cost value added potato products (Aloo wari, potato flour, Aloo bhujia,. potato papad, potato chakli and potato-maize chips) which can help farmers fight the current financial crunch.”

Dr Sachdev further said: “We have the technology for preparation of dehydrated potato fingers, cubes and potato flour. Dehydrated potato products have a shelf life of 18-months and when reconstituted, retain its fresh flavour. This potato products can be used for making potato-based snacks. We are working on technologies for the preparation of potato starch from non-commercial potato varieties. From this starch, soups and custard powder can be prepared. The department is also working on the technology needed for the preparation of potato noodles and pasta.”

Canning facilities for the manufacturing of ready-to-use canned potatoes (whole cubes or curried) and french fries, frozen cubes and frozen ready-to-fry potato based snacks have also been developed.

Farmers, farm women, rural youth and progressive entrepreneurs will be provided with hands-on training and facilities related to the processing of potatoes at the Food Industry Business Incubation Centre at
Punjab Agricultural University.

Report by The Tribune