The incredible potato | The Daily Star
05:49 PM, June 17, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:02 AM, June 18, 2019


The incredible potato

Potatoes are one of the most commonly consumed vegetables in Bangladesh and around the world. This starchy, tuber crop can be diced and added to curries, fried to crisp in delicious shapes and sizes, mashed, roasted, grounded to make flour… the possibilities are endless. Apart from its uses in savoury dishes, in many modern cuisines, chefs also use this vegetable to make delectable desserts.

Potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and those consumed with the skin are a great source of potassium. Potatoes may also reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Moreover, potatoes contain a variety of phytonutrients, an element found in plant-based foods, that help prevent several diseases and also boost antioxidant activities. Unfortunately, most people eat potatoes in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips. Even baked potatoes are typically loaded down with fats such as butter, sour cream, melted cheese and bacon bits which can nullify its health benefits. Such treatment can make baked potatoes a potential contributor to heart attack. But take away the extra fat and deep frying, and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthy low-calorie, high-fibre food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Alim Uddin, a potato farmer from Shahbazpur, Jessore, shares his experience of growing this vegetable. Growing potatoes usually requires three ploughings, along with frequent harrowing and rolling, before the soil reaches a suitable condition: soft, well-drained and well-aerated. The potato crop typically grows from "seed potatoes", small tubers or pieces of tuber, sown to a depth of 5-10 cm. Farmers determine the spacing in between the seed tubers and the adjacent rows on the basis of soil quality and potato variety. As the potato plants become mature and the tubers are fully formed, the leaves gradually become yellowish and then brownish. It is always better to harvest the crop after these signs become evident in the field. Most varieties of potato are harvested in Bangladesh during winter.

Alim, along with many farmers of the area, provides vegetables for Shwapno under the Shuddho project. According to Alim, this initiative has helped him adopt the right agricultural practices for growing potatoes, especially in terms of learning about how much fertiliser or pesticide should be used. Farmers also have an opportunity to learn about the interval period between pesticide application and harvesting, known as the Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI).

Potatoes are grown in more than 100 countries, under temperate, subtropical and tropical conditions. It is a vegetable that can be paired up with almost any dish or consumed on its own to satiate one’s taste buds. However, one should be careful as to not eat it in excess amounts, as it may bring adverse health effects.


A joint initiative of Shwapno and The Daily Star

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