‘Air Potato’ finds place in farms again
Once air potato, locally known as ‘Adathappu’, was a common item in Kerala cuisine. Though it faded into memory later, the air potato is having a re-entry to the Malayali’s kitchen now. The hillside farms have started to give a special place for air potato, which belongs to the yam family. Half a century ago, air potato used to enjoy the present status of potato. But, now it can be found only in the house compounds of migrated farmers.
Air potato is much similar to the yam and other crops that grows as vines on trees or trellis. Its leaves also are similar. The vine grows around the supporting pillar or tree in clockwise. The air potato grows on the vine. The potatoes may weigh from 100 gm to 1.5 kg. The tuber of the plant also can be used, which is larger in size like yam.
Fully ripe air potatoes tend to fall off the vine. Since it has a two-month period of hibernation, the crop is not sown soon after harvesting. Farming starts after the potatoes sprout. About 20 kg air potato can be harvested from one vine. The high-yielding period is during the months of November and December.
Air potatoes are rich source of carbohydrate, protein and calcium. It is an ideal diet for the diabetic patients. The plant’s scientific name is Dioscorea Bulbifera. It is commonly known as air yam, bitter yam, cheeky yam and potato yam. Air potato was used as a medicine for knee joint pain. Since this is a season of organic farming, air potato also is trending.