Takhar’s rain-fed land set to produce bumper potato crop
TALOQAN (Pajhwok): Rain-fed lands in five districts of northern Takhar province are set to produce a bumper potato crop this year, local officials said on Friday.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, the agriculture director said the staple vegetable had been grown in deserts of Farkhar, Kalafgan, Warsaj, Rustaq and Chah Aab districts.
Mohammad Salem Sayee added: “This is the common potato variety, not the type meant for cultivation in land-fed lands. Timely rains will enable the soil to retain wetness until the harvest months.”
A number of growers in the five districts were motivated for the first time by the Aga Khan Foundation into sowing the major crop on their rain-fed lands, the official said.
“The desert areas sown with potato seem to give a good yield,” the director remarked, hoping the crop would bring good income to the farmers.
Aga Khan Foundation official Nasrullah said: “We have brought to Takhar the experience of potato cultivation in deserts from China. Our initiative has been a success.”
“After being sown, potato plants are covered with plastic. The rainwater collecting in canals is absorbed by deserts. This keeps farms wet and the vapor thus caused drops back on soil and obviates the need for irrigation.”
The foundation is trying to encourage farmers from other areas as well to grow the crop in deserts, he said, claiming half an acre of rain-fed land in Kalafgan had yielded 3,640 kilograms of potatoes.
A grower from the district, Rajab Mohammad, confirmed: “We have sown our desert with the potato crop and the result is remarkable.” Previously, half an acre of his land would yield 20 maunds of wheat, with the same area now producing 500 maunds of potatoes.
One of Afghanistan’s agricultural provinces, Takhar has about 500,000 hectares of cultivable land, including 350,000 hectares of rain-fed area.
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