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FactCheck: Did Rahul Gandhi say he would get a machine which converts Potato to Gold?

Rahul Gandhi’s reputation has preceded him yet again. The Congress scion has given us many moments to laugh at over the past years. From claiming that Gujarat is bigger than UK, to his most recent “all cities of Bangalore” remark, Rahul’s gaffes are aplenty. With so much to his credit, it doesn’t take much to convince someone of another goof-up by him. And tonight, that goof-up came from social media.

A video became viral on social media which showed Rahul Gandhi saying something really stupid:

In the video, Rahul is seen as saying:

I will fix such a machine, that from one end you can put a potato, and from the other end you will get gold. You will get so much money you will have no idea what to do with it.

Given Rahul Gandhi’s propensity to have his foot in his mouth on a regular basis, this video was believed by many to be a real statement made by Rahul Gandhi. Some others used it to formulate their own jokes. But did he really say it?

The video is not doctored or morphed, but it has been cut short. It is actually a part of Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Patan Gujarat from a few days ago. In the speech, Rahul Gandhi was mocking PM Modi and his promises to Gujarat. One of the promises which Rahul Gandhi used, was this supposed promise of a machine which converts potato to gold.

Whether Modi ever made such a statement is not clear, but Rahul Gandhi may have used some exaggeration to make it into a good joke. This very well could be Rahul’s way of undoing his own “potato gaffe”, when last year he had said he would put up an “aloo ki factory”. Soon after this comment, Rahul makes the claim that Rs 3000 is needed to open a bank account, which is obviously a lie. So it is almost confirmed this video is not doctored.

This potato to gold joke, may or may not ring  bell with Gujarat’s potato farmers though. Only few years ago, these farmers virtually minted gold just from potatoes.

McDonald’s the worldwide fast food chain had launched its stores in India from 1996. But till 2008, all the famous french fries sold in India, came from potato shipped into India. Then something changed. By 2009, 70 per cent of the MacFries served by McDonald’s India were grown in India. And it was expected that by 2010, each and every MacFry would be Indian, and Indian fries may well be travelling the world.

McDonald’s initially had to import potatoes because of its strict quality parameters, which required a specific kind of potato, which was not easy to grow in India. It was the Gujarati farmer who decided to take up the challenge. “The Gujarati conditions, while not perfect, were good, and the Gujarati farmer was willing to try new practices if it meant making more money”, said  Devendra Kumar, General Manager, Agriculture, McCain Foods India.

Kumar started with a small demo farm of his own, showing farmers techniques of drip irrigation, which reduced water usage. This was important in a Gujarat where the water table was below 700 feet and also for the low water containing content of the variety of the potato. The Gujarat government also had a special scheme for drip irrigation which gave farmers a 50 per cent subsidy. Soon yields increased and with a fixed-price contract with McCain in place, the farmers were also protected from price fluctuations.

By 2012, McCain Foods India, had plans to double the contract farming area for the tuber to 8,000 acres in Gujarat. McDonald’s alone would increase its potato procurement in Gujarat from 30,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes in three years as a key ingredient for outlets across the country.

As of 2017, Gujarat’s Banaskantha district was the highest potato producing district in India, producing 17.10 lakh MT of potatoes, which is a whopping 9% of the total production in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had lauded the farmers of Deesa, Banaskantha for their potato yield and their progressive agricultural practices. The cold storage capacity in Gujarat was also boosted by approximately 6.25 lakh tonnes (1.25 crore bags of 50kg each).

As is evident, Gujarat’s potato farmers had found Rahul Gandhi’s machine which converts Potato to Gold much before he joked about it. Would they get Rahul’s joke then? Or would the joke be on the Gandhi scion?

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