The production of potato from 2015 to 2018 increased from 16, 427 tons to some 18, 500 tons and a further rise of some 2, 000 tons is expected this year if climatic conditions are favourable. Moreover, a series of measures are being taken to address the shortfall in the production of onion and garlic.
This statement was made yesterday by the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, at the National Assembly in reply to a Parliamentary Question concerning a decrease in the production of potato, onion and garlic since 2015 to date.
With regard to the production of potato, the Minister underlined that a lesser amount of potato was planted due to unfavorable climatic conditions resulting in delay of harvest of sugar cane fields and late release of land to small planters for potato growing. Second, he said, dry rot problems and poor-quality Delaware seeds also contributed to a decrease in production by some 2,200 tons.
As for a drop in the production of onion from 2017, he informed, few reasons identified were mainly due to adverse climatic conditions from March to May; ocurrence of Stemphylium Blight disease especially at vegetative stage; and phasing out of the two most commonly grown varieties, NUN 7272 and Star 5529.
To address this issue, Minister Seeruttun stated that the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (FAREI) and local growers embarked on a programme aimed at producing some 500 to 700 kg of local onion seeds of Francia and Bellarose varieties. These varieties, he said, offer good storability and adaptability to local climatic conditions and represent some 50% of total local onion seeds requirement therefore contributing to an expected boost in onion production in the coming years.
He pointed out that as far as garlic is concerned, the local production has been on a declining trend, since the 1980 because of a lack of labour; high cost of production and lower demand for local garlic amongst others. In order to palliate the problem of labour and facilitate farmers in the tedious task of clove preparation before plantation, he informed that the AMB has acquired a clove separator.
In addition, the Minister stated, a dedicated garlic seed storage facility in addition to the various incentives are being provided to growers. The FAREI is also evaluating more than 23 local accessions with a view to coming up with varieties that will meet consumers' preference and create interest as well as demand for local garlic, he concluded.