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PepsiCo to help AP grow potatoes in Vizag

Visakhapatnam: After getting the desired results in the cultivation of Himachal Pradesh variety apples in Vizag Agency, the state government in association with MNC PepsiCo is planning to cultivate high quality potatoes in select mandals.

PepsiCo, the New York-based multinational food, snack and beverage corporation, has signed an agreement with the department of horticulture, Andhra Pradesh, to provide necessary support to the farmers in cultivating potatoes and purchasing the produce as well.

The horticulture department has received positive results from the seeds that were being tested in 20 acres at Araku and Dumbriguda Agency mandals from July 2015 on a trial basis. Now, the department and PepsiCo want to grow potatoes in nearly 1,000 acres from October 2016.

Confirming this news to TOI, Visakhapatnam district horticulture assistant director G Prabhakara Rao said the FC3 variety is cultivated in Himachal Pradesh and specially meant for potato chips. PepsiCo is keen on using the potatoes for its chips units across the globe. “Our department and PepsiCo conducted trials in Kuppam in Chittoor and Vizag Agency last season and the MNC representatives were satisfied with the results from Vizag Agency and have confirmed that they will go ahead with cultivation in 1,000 acres in the Agency area. The ITDA Paderu financially supported us in the trial run by sharing 50% of the input cost which is around Rs 30,000 per acre,” Prabhakara Rao said. The department will procure around 1,000 tonnes of seeds from Himachal Pradesh.

A PepsiCo representative said, “Vizag Agency’s weather is most favourable for the FC3 potatoes. We hope that we will get a good yield in Vizag. We will start the work from October this year.”

Prabhakara Rao further said that they got nearly 4 to 5 tonnes of potatoes per acre in the trial session and they hope to generate 7 to 8 tonnes per acre during actual cultivation. “Farmers will get good profits from the crop. A Rs 50000 investment will be required for an acre’s crop and the returns are likely to be Rs 1 lakh. Priority will be given to local tribals to grow the potatoes. Only three agency mandals, namely, Araku, Dumbriguda and Hukumpeta are viable for the FC3 potatoes cultivation,” the officer said.

“These FC3 potatoes are not good for commercial purpose like local market. However, the potatoes which get rejected by PepsiCo will be given to commercial markets,” Prabhakara Rao said.

According to horticulture scientists, the FC3 potato is resistant to diseases, gives good yields than ordinary varieties, has thin skin, is easily washable and boiled and needs less fertiliser. All these qualities make it ideal for making chips.

Horticulture officials said the MNC may set up a potato chips manufacturing unit in Vizag if they are satisfied with the potatoes cultivation here in the long run. The state government is also planning to give sops to various MNCs for their units in the state, the officer added.

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