Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 24:
The Odisha government today announced that said it would procure 6,600 tonnes of potatoes from the farmers at Rs 6 a kg.
Briefing newsmen after a meeting with three ministers, Cooperation minister Damodar Rout said the state government would procure potato through its own agency by paying the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 6 per kg to the farmers.
The meeting was chaired by Rout and attended by Agriculture Minister Pradip Maharathy and Food and Supplies minister Sanjay Dasburma. It was held as per the direction of Speaker Niranjan Pujari after MLAs cutting across party lines expressed their concern in the assembly over the plight of potato growers.
Coming down heavily on the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) for the mismanagement in procurement of potato from farmers in the state, Rout said the agency which was assigned the job of potato procurement from 22 districts, withdrew from the assignment on March 18 this year.
As decided in the meeting, the state owned Marketing Federation Ltd (Markfed) would procure potatoes from Bargarh, Jharsuguda and Baleswar disrricts while the Udyan Fresh under the Horticulture department would procure from Baleswar, Khordha, Cuttack, Bhadrak and Puri districts.
The Markfed would procure 2000 MT of potatoes from Bargarh and store at the state’s cold storage at Jagatpur, 2,500 MT of potatoes from Jharsuguda to be stored at a cold storage at Patia in Bhubaneswar and 1,000 MT of potatoes from the farmers of Baleswar district to be kept in that district while the Udyan Fresh would procure 11 MT of potatoes.
Admitting of acute shortage of cold storage for potatoes in the state, Rout said the Udyan Fresh would use its own facilities to store the potatoes.
“We are working to revive 12 defunct cold storages and hope to make them operational by next year,” he added.
“The procurement has already started. Storage, however, is a concern. We are working to get the 12 non-functional cold storages of the state back to work. I hope they will be operational by next year,” said Co-operation Minister Rout.
He also informed that the Markfed has not received a single rupee from the government towards procurement of potatoes.
Earlier in the day, while Raising the issue in the State Assembly earlier in the day, BJD member Ranendra Pratap Swain had alleged that Markfed had sat idle despite receiving Rs 50 crore from the state government.
Congress member Tara Prasad Bahinipati alleged that the government is yet to procure 14,000 MT from the farmers forcing them go for the distress sale.
It may be noted that, Speaker Niranjan Pujari had convened a meeting on this issue o which was attended by the Cooperation minister, Food Supply and Consumer Welfare minister, Agriculture minister, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of BJP legislature Party.
But as the meeting failed to come up with a concrete solution, another inter-departmental ministers’ meeting was held today.