Productivity and Preferences of New Potato Varieties and their Relationships in Five Districts of Bhutan

Pradeep Rai, Yadunath Bajgai, Tshering Lhadon, Lobzang & Sangay

ABSTRACT

Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is one of the widely cultivated horticultural commodities in Bhutan. Over the years yields of potato at national level have stagnated due to degeneration of seeds and lack of appropriate varieties in the country. To address the yield stagnation issue, two potato varieties (Yusi Maap and Nasphel Kewa Kaap (NKK)) were introduced in recent years. To understand crop productivity and farmer’s preferences of the new varieties this study was conducted in Bumthang, Chukha, Gasa, Haa, and Wangduephodrang districts from 2017 to 2018 using the field demonstration trials and participatory varietal selection method. Desiree, the popular variety was used as a control. On an average across years and dzongkhags, mean yields of the NKK and Yusi Maap were 10.4 and 10.5 tons/acre, respectively. Hence, yields of Yusi Maap and NKK were approximately 30% higher in comparison to Desire, which was 7.30 tons/acre on an average across the years and dzongkhags. Being one of the oldest varieties, Desiree consistently showed lower productivity compared to other two varieties due to seed degeneration and quality deterioration. Although the productivity difference between NKK and Yusi Maap is minimal (0.10 tons/acre) the preference votes of Yusi Maap was 1.3 times that of NKK indicating the higher level of preferences for Yusi Maap. There was positive significant relationship (P=0.02) between the potato productivity and the farmer’s preference suggesting that higher productivity attracted more votes and lower productivity attracted lesser votes. Further higher productivity is also seen as a means to earn cash income for the household to achieve food security in terms of household’s consumptions through the sale of potatoes. The findings provide a sound scientific basis to guide program implementers and policy-makers in terms of potato research and development at the national level.

Keywords: Potato productivity, Farmer’s preferences, Potato varieties

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