If you’re a potato-lover, then you can agree that they are highly beneficial vegetables. Not only do they offer high nutritional value, but their versatility allows you to prepare them in many ways. You can boil, deep fry, or bake them. There are also great compliments to a variety of other foods.
So, it’s no surprise that the Chinese love potatoes so much. The country is among the largest producers of potatoes today. In the global market, they contribute to more than a quarter of potato production. To understand the relationship the Chinese, have with potatoes, in this post, we will be looking at the history of potatoes in China, when they arrived and the different types that exist.
When Did Potatoes Arrive in China?
Despite being among the largest producers of potatoes today, China is not the origin country where potatoes indigenously grew. Still, China has been growing potatoes for over 400 years now. Although they can grow in all regions of the country, they are predominantly found in the southern and northern regions of China. The north and south of China account for 90% of the potatoes grown in China. These areas are where the four major potato-growing regions in China are found.
Potatoes In China History
Potatoes were introduced in China in the 17th century towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, probably. It probably reached China’s coasts via European ships, around the same time Russian traders introduced them to central China. They immediately became a delicacy for the imperial family. During the Qin dynasty after the middle period of the Qianlong era, there was a sudden surge in population and an increased need for more food production. This was the time the cultivation of potatoes rapidly increased and became acclimated with the local conditions in China.
The production and popularity of potatoes continued to increase especially in the 1960s and early 1970s. This was after the Great Chinese famine, which was regarded as the deadliest famine ever experienced in the country. At that point, the Chinese begun recognizing the value potatoes had as food security. By the 1990s, there was a sudden surge in potato production in China. That put the country at the forefront as leading producers in the international market, especially after Europe’s production decreased significantly. Currently, although the production in China may have decreased slightly, it is still among the leading countries when it comes to growing potatoes.
Types Of Potatoes in China
China is reported to have set aside 9.88 million acres of land for planting potatoes, so it’s no wonder it’s among the biggest distributor in the world. Considering that the process of growing potatoes in China is done by hand, it may seem like intensive work.
The lands are, however, normally subdivided into smaller portions of 2-5 acres and are worked on with rudimentary tools. It is this hand-tending process that differentiates the quality of potatoes grown in China from those grown in regions using modern potato growing techniques.
In the country, there are several varieties of potatoes being cultivated, including sweet potatoes, of which China is the leading producer. Some of the potato varieties in China include:
- Cooperation 88
- Qingshu 9
- Xiazhai 65
- Qingshu 168
- Longshu 3
- Qingshu 11
- Tongshu 23
- Zhuangshu 3
In China, potatoes are not only a staple food but a significant source of income for those living in rural areas. The role potatoes play in food security is also another reason why China puts a lot of effort into growing such large amounts of it.