Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Now, Jain potato in pav-bhajiAdd to Clippings
[ 6 Dec, 2006 0241hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
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JUNAGADH: The Jain pav-bhaji may no longer come sans potatoes. A farmer in a village in Junagadh claims to have come up with a wonder potato - one that grows above the ground.

For Girish Akbari, it's the fruit of months of research in his farm in Patarpur village in Una taluka. For Jains, it could be the freedom to enjoy the potato, with their religion keeping them from having any vegetable that is grown underground. Akbari, who hails from Rajkot, has even named his find the 'Jain potato'.

"We have been experimenting for the past 18 months. We used a grafting technique and succeeded. We have also grown gourd in a similar way.We created this hybrid by grafting a potato onto a grape vine. It grew best during the monsoons," adds Akbari.

While about 80 to 10 kg of potatoes grew on one vine alone last year, he expects the yield to be about 400 kg per vine. "They are initially green but turn brown on ripening. They even last for over a year after they are picked," he says.

And, they are more nutritious. Testing at the Saurasthra University's biotechnology department found this variety to have significantly more protein than those grown underground. It also contained less starch and calories while it had similar amount of fibre.

And the taste? Akbari says there is no difference. "All regular dishes - from curry to potato vada and chips - taste the same. You cannot tell the difference," claims Akbari.

However, some experts have expressed doubts. "Grafting will change the characteristic of the potato. It is not possible to have potatoes through grafting," says P Butani, principal of the Agriculture College, affiliated to the Junagadh Agriculture University.

Akbari has sent the potato to a Central laboratory in Delhi for confirmation.


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