Potato is an annual plant that belongs to the Solanaceae family which is a type of nightshade plant. It is commonly cultivated for its edible tubers that are starchy. The plant is native to the Peruvian-Bolivian Andes and it is one of the world’s main food sources and food crops. Potato is a versatile vegetable that can be served in many forms. It is commonly served whole or mashed as a cooked vegetable it is also used to grind flour, very often used in baking, and as a thickener. The potato tubers are easily digestible and are an excellent source of vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, and protein.
The potato is a common name for up to 150 tuber-bearing species of the Solanum genus. A tuber is a swollen end of an underground stem. It produces compound leaves that are spirally arranged. A single leaf reached up to 30 cm in length and is built of terminal leaflet and from two to four leaflets. The plant produces single flowers that are usually white, lavender, or purple with five petals with yellow stamens. The fruit produced by the plant is a poisonous berry with large numerous seeds.
The underground stems create structures called stolons. The ends of these stolons may form up to 20 tubers, that vary in size and shape. Most commonly the tubers reach a weight of 300 grams but some of them may even reach 1.5 kg in weight. Their skin is usually brownish-white but depending on the species it may have different colors such as deep purple. It has starchy flesh that also appears in a vast variety of colors. The tubers produce spirally arranged buds in the axils of the aborted leaves, that leave scars on the tuber’s surface. Vegetative reproduction is used commercially, making some varieties vulnerable to pests and diseases.
The biggest producer of potatoes worldwide is China with one-third of the total world’s potato production. The second-largest production takes place in Inia. According to various sources, each year up to 359 million metric tonnes of potatoes is produced worldwide and this number increases each year. The largest producers of potatoes in Europe are Germany, Poland, France, and the Netherlands.
Global potato production
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global potato production in 2016 was estimated at 378 million tonnes. This is an increase of 1.9% from the previous year. The top potato-producing countries in the world are China, India, Russia, and the United States.
China is by far the largest potato producer in the world, accounting for nearly one-third of global production. In 2016, China produced 115 million tonnes of potatoes, an increase of 2.3% from the previous year. India is the second-largest potato producer in the world, with an estimated production of 48 million tonnes in 2016. This is an increase of 5% from the previous year. Russia is the third-largest potato producer in the world, with an estimated production of 29 million tonnes in 2016. This is a decrease of 2% from the previous year. The United States is the fourth-largest potato producer in the world, with an estimated production of 23 million tonnes in 2016. This is a decrease of 1% from the previous year.
Other notable potato-producing countries include Germany, Egypt, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Canada. Together, these countries account for nearly 20% of global potato production.