BANGKOK, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Organic farming of potatoes in northern Thailand was not considered very cost-effective due to their vulnerability to tropical diseases, said a government specialist on Monday.
The Department of Agriculture's specialist Krit Linwatana said potatoes might probably be destroyed by leaf blights and nematodes if cultivated in organic farming. Instead, potatoes need a limited volume of chemical fertilizers to grow and pesticides to get rid of such diseases, the specialist said.
Krit said the organic farming, which categorically denies the uses of any chemicals, cannot prevent potatoes from being vulnerable to blights, nematodes and other tropical diseases and even incurs more production costs than the commercial farming which relies on a limited amount of chemicals.
Given a limited volume of chemical fertilizers, potatoes can grow in high terrains in northern Thailand, including Pu Tabberg mountain area, a favorite tourist spot in Petchaboon province, according to the specialist.
Petchaboon's deputy provincial governor, Kraisorn Kongchalard, voiced strong opposition to the planned contract farming of potatoes by hilltribesmen on Pu Tabberg mountain, following the dismantling of resort houses provided for visitors.
Kraisorn said the organic farming would be promoted in place of the contract farming which largely tends to use chemicals as had been the case with cabbages grown by the local hilltribesmen on the scenic mountain.
An estimated 123,000 tons of potatoes are produced mostly in northern provinces of Tak, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai while domestic demands currently amount to about 170,000 tons in a year. Farmers sell their raw potatoes for 11-14 baht (about 30-40 U.S. cents) per kilogram.
Up to 90 percent of the total produce is bound to the making of potato chips.