The state news agency Xinhua announced last week that Chinese experts are investigating the possibility of planting potatoes instead of rice and wheat in an effort to fight droughts.
Xinhua quoted Qu Dongyu, a potato farming specialist at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, as saying that, ‘The potato is more drought-resistant than rice and wheat, which suits China better as 60 percent of the country’s arable land is dry’.
Albeit seriously hit by summer flooding, the country laments an annual shortage of 30 billion cubic metres of water for irrigation.
‘The potato is not only more nutritious, potato yields per hectare weigh three to four times more than other crops,’ argues Chen Fan, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology.
‘The yield per unit of rice, corn and wheat is not expected to increase due to technology limitations, which means the potato is a better option to meet the food demand of 1.3 billion people.’
To persuade farmers to make the change, the government will have to provide subsidies, say farming experts.
Xinhua News Agency