Tons of French fries and potato flakes: first factory in Central Asia for processing potato (video)

Tons of French fries and potato flakes: first factory in Central Asia for processing potato (video)

International Potato Day, held in Uzbekistan for
the first time, ended with the grand opening of the first and so far the only
potato processing factory in Central Asian region. The factory produces tons of
French fries and potato flakes from the best potatoes grown in the domestic
fields daily. NUZ.UZ correspondent tells about potato growing in Uzbekistan,
equipment and technologies of production, import and export of potatoes.

International potato day that was held in
Tashkent for the first time took place on March 19, 2019. The event brought
together representatives of the Association of potato producers that was
established a year ago, and suppliers of agricultural equipment and
fertilizers, scientists, agronomists and farmers. In one of the pavilions there
was an exhibition of domestic potato growing, where more than ten varieties of
potatoes cultivated in Uzbekistan were presented. Most of the varieties,
according to experts, has been brought and adapted to local climatic conditions
from the Netherlands. Every year about 30 – 40 new varieties of potatoes are
tested in the Republic, not all take root. In addition, the testing process
takes up to 4 years.

"Previously, potatoes were mainly grown by
farms in relatively small quantities. But with yearly population growth, the
consumption of potatoes has increased. Uzbekistan was forced to import this
vegetable type from other countries. There is a need to increase domestic
potato production. To do this, the industry had to introduce modern technologies
of cultivation, mechanize irrigation and harvesting. For this purpose, the
experience of foreign countries was studied, since it was not so easy to grow
potatoes in our hot climatic conditions. Basically, we used the technology of
European countries, as you know, the Netherlands is the leader in this
industry. We borrowed irrigation technologies from America and Israel.
Innovative agricultural machinery was purchased from German companies – Grimme
and Amazone. This lead to results. Today, the process from planting to
harvesting potatoes is mechanized by 90%. The irrigation system is fully
automatized. People are not involved in the process, except the monitoring the
system," - said project Manager of the company "Agrover"
Kosimjon Zukhriddinov.

Today, the company "Agrover" grows its
potatoes in the fields near Tashkent and Surhandarya region. In Tashkent region
potato plantations cover approximately 1,800 hectares. It is the territory of
Chirchik, Yangiyul, Zangiata. In the Bostanlik district, where the climate is
milder, there are seed fields. Annually Tashkent region produces three potato
plantings – taking place in  early
spring, spring and autumn. In Surhandarya region, on the other hand, four
potato plantings take place on the 800 ha of land. In addition to the three
main, due to warmer weather, potatoes are planted in January. Representatives
of the company said that the early potatoes are even exported to the cities of

Today, the producer cultivates around 10
varieties of potato. However, for the potato processing a special potato
variety was chosen that perfectly suits the blanching and boiling as well as
frying. The producers hide the details as a commercial secret intentionally.
This potato variety is used to make tons of French fries and potato flakes
every day in «Solanuz» factory, launched before Navruz celebration. Unique not
only in the scale of the country but in the whole region, the production coplex
is located in the suburbs of Tashkent in Sergeli district. Apart from potato processing
factory and producing ready-made products, there is build a large storage area
for storing fresh tubers. Rational storage and optimal temperature help keep
the vegetable correctly, deterring its spoiling.  The factory is equipped with Holland equipment
that helps to fully atomize processing.

"The commissioning of the potato processing
factory will cover about 70 – 80% of the total market. Tashkent alone consumes
about 500 tons of French fries every month. Our plant produces 2 tons of French
fries per hour, 48 tons per day. Every month it is more than a thousand tons of
finished products. So far, semi-finished products are supplied only to catering
establishments, since the packaging is 25 kg. In may, our products will appear
in a more compact package on supermarket shelves. As for the sale of fresh
potatoes, before the construction of the factory, our brand could often be
found in retail outlets. Now 80% of all potatoes grown by us will go for
processing. This, of course, does not mean that "Agrover" potatoes
will completely disappear from retail. No. With the expansion of production on
the open ground, we plan to increase the supply of fresh potatoes to retail
outlets," - said the Executive Director of the "Agrover" company
Farhod Tohirov.

Of course, knowing that mashed potatoes are
prepared from powder, many will have quite logical questions, whether it is or
not a chemical substance or whether it is harmful, or how and what it is made
from. According to the chief engineer of the "Solanuz" factory Doniyor
Manapov, a product is made of nothing but potatoes. The manufacturer does not
add any salt or spices, or flavor enhancers, or any other ingredients.

"The technology of preparing potato flakes
for mashed potatoes is extremely simple. The potato is brought from a warehouse
to go through the first process of sorting (where too small or curve selection
will not pass), then it is washed and steam cleaned. Next, the potatoes are passed
to mechanical cutting and blanching until they are fully cooked. Then comes the
drying process – where all the moisture is vapored. After that, the
"dried" potato enters the mill, where it turns into flakes. French
fries are prepared according to another technology – after being washed, cleaned
and sliced potatoes are fried until half cooked. Then the fried potatoes get into
the shock freezing chamber, where the temperature is set at -35 degrees.
Finished products – fries and flakes – are sent for packing and
packaging," Doniyar Manapov said.

The processing is maximally automated. Just 15
people work in one shift. Workers monitor the equipment. Packers put the
finished packaged product in boxes, which are then sent to the freezer for
storage. Nothing else is done manually.

According to the technologist, the plant
processes about 170 tons of potatoes per day. Approximately 50 tons of French
fries are processed from 100 tons of potato. 13 tons of potato flakes are made
out from 70 tons of potatoes. It is quite simple to work with semi-finished
products for the consumer: it only takes 2-3 minutes to prepare fries in a
frying pan or frying fat at a temperature of 180 degrees. Mashed potato is
prepared by just adding water. Spices, butter, milk and other ingredients can
be added to taste.

As the Chairman of the Association of potato
producers Elyor Toshpulatov noted, the consumption of potatoes in the country
per capita is about 65 kg per year according to statistics. The figures are
impressive. At the same time, there were many problems for the development of
potato growing in the country. The industry lacked technology, part of the
irrigated land was not used effectively, it was not possible to store fresh
potatoes everywhere. Now with the support of the Association of potato
producers these issues have been solved.

"This year there will be three new modern
storage facilities in Bostanlik district, Jizzakh and Namangan regions in
Uzbekistan. In addition, potato-growing centres have been established in seven
regions of the Republic. Our Association is working closely with research
institutes and universities, we intend to promote the introduction of
scientific achievements and the development of high-yielding varieties of
potatoes, the effective use of irrigated land and attract modern
resource-saving technologies", - said Elyor Toshpulatov.

The chairman of Association of potato producers also noted that all the steps taken are aimed to satisfy population needs in potato and providing stability of prices in the domestic market.

Evgeniya GRANDE,
author's photo
Video: Bobur Yigitaliev


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