On March 19, a grandiose event took place in Tashkent: the first International Potato Day. The organizers of this event were the Association of Potato Producers of Uzbekistan, GRIMME company and one of the largest national potato producers - the Agrover group of companies.
Today it is difficult to believe that just ten years ago, the majority of Uzbek potatoes (70%) were grown in household plots. Potato cultivation was carried out by farmers, as well as smallholder farms. Mostly potatoes were planted as a “second crop" after wheat. The country had no experience in mechanizing the entire production cycle; there were no modern storage facilities.
Potato production on an industrial scale in hot and dry climates was considered impossible. However, this opinion was not shared by all.
Agrover made a lot of efforts to change the attitude towards potato growing in Uzbekistan: experts conducted many years of testing various varieties of potatoes, studied possible ways of mechanizing agricultural operations (watering, growing, harvesting, storage). They proved that growing potatoes in this hot country is promising and profitable: the geographical location of Uzbekistan and the variety of climatic zones provide a unique opportunity to get several crops a year.
AGROVER COMPANY AND POTATO PRODUCTION OF UZBEKISTAN TODAY
Today, Agrover can be called the center of the potato cluster in Uzbekistan.
The company owns agricultural land with a total area of 3 hectares located in the Tashkent region (in Zangiata, Yangiyul and Bustonlyk districts). Grows eight main varieties of potatoes, selected from a huge number of proposals from breeders in Germany, Russia, Belarus, but mainly from Holland. These varieties are versatile, they behave equally well during cooking and frying. Among them there are red-skinned ones with yellow flesh - this is the kind of potato preferred in Tashkent - and white-skinned ones, a favorite version of the inhabitants of the Fergana Valley.
The potato growing process is fully mechanized - from planting to harvesting. Particular attention is paid to the organization of storage. The crop is stored in a modern storage facility (with a volume of 17 thousand tons) equipped with unique refrigeration complexes. In the near future it is planned to launch another complex - for 30 thousand tons of products. By 2020, the company plans to increase the planting area to 10 hectares.
The main factors that allow to obtain high potato yields, Agrover Group considers a healthy land and high-quality seed material. The company follows the principles of crop rotation and carefully approaches the selection of seeds.
The company annually imports elite varieties of seed potatoes of European production (on average, up to 10 tons). A significant part of this material is sold to specialized farms in the country.
At the same time, the company is actively engaged in resolving the issue of minimizing the dependence of the industry on imports. Work on selection and seed production is carried out in close cooperation with the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry.
At the initiative of Agrover in 2018, the Association of Potato Producers was established in Uzbekistan. The goal of the organization is to unite all potato producers in the country. The Association is called upon to give a new impetus to the development of industrial potato growing, to raise the production and consumption of one of the main products on every table to a new quality level.
International Potato Day, organized with the participation of the Association, made it possible to demonstrate all the successes that the industry has achieved in recent years.
The holiday turned out to be bright and intense. Among the guests of honor were representatives of government agencies, the agricultural sector of Uzbekistan, the largest companies in the CIS and Europe (GRIMME, Amazone, Tolsma-Grisnich, Valley Irrigation, HZPC Sadokas), members of the delegations of potato growers from Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan; farmers, journalists, bloggers.
More than 20 largest companies from the CIS countries and Europe - producers of seed potatoes, modern agricultural equipment (storage, packaging, irrigation), as well as fertilizers and plant protection products - presented their products at the exhibition.
The meeting guests were able to visit the cooperative exchange for agricultural producers, take part in a conference on the current state of the potato market, exchange experiences and gain new knowledge.
The serious business program also included events for the soul. This is what many participants called an excursion to a new generation greenhouse complex for high-tech cut rose cultivation using the method of low-volume hydroponics and drip irrigation - GULSHAN (Agrover Group of Companies).
The company began its work in 2014 and today remains unique for Central Asia. More than 50 varieties of roses from leading Dutch breeders are produced in accordance with the methods of cultivation, cutting and pre-sale preparation for subsequent transportation to the final consumer in dry form.
The culmination of the holiday was the grand opening of the only potato processing plant in Central Asia - Solanuz (part of the Agrover Group of Companies).
Preparation for this event took about four years. It was assembled and tested modern equipment, trained personnel, developed an original recipe. For almost three years, a comparative study of 12 varieties of potatoes took place, according to the results of which the optimal option for the production of raw materials was chosen.
The entire production process at the plant is automated, the participation of people is minimized. Once a week, the entire line stops for cleaning.
The plant’s capacity allows it to process about 170 tons of potatoes per day. About 550 kg of flakes and up to 2 tons of frozen french fries (about 20 thousand tons of goods per year) roll off the conveyor per hour. Agrover Group is planning to send up to 80% of the total potato crop for processing.
The main consumers of Solanuz products are representatives of the HoReCa industry. But on the day of the grand opening, all the guests of the event who looked into the Potato bar could appreciate the quality of local french fries (as well as many other interesting potato dishes).
By the way, in the future it will be possible to enjoy the taste of fries from Solanuz not only in the restaurant. The plant plans to sell part of the goods to retail customers through retail chains, and also to export them to neighboring countries, where there are no such factories yet.
The prospects for the development of potato growing in Uzbekistan against this background look more than optimistic.
As the chairman of the Association of Potato Producers Elier Toshpulatov noted, in the near future the key areas for the industry will be: the cultivation of high-yielding varieties of potatoes, improving the efficiency of use of irrigated land, attracting modern resource-saving technologies. All measures taken will be aimed at meeting the needs of the population in potatoes and ensuring price stability in the domestic market. However, potato growers do not count on this.