Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Koraput, Nov 12:
In absence of cold stores potato farmers in Odisha’s Koraput district are forced to distress sell their produce to traders and middle men from outside states giving a big jolt to the state government’s much publicized ‘Potato Mission’ which aimed at making the state self-sufficient in potato production and storage over a period of three years from fiscal 2015-16.
With state government setting a target to produce five lakh tonnes of potatoes in the district this season, farmers went for extensive cultivation of the tuber crop, now with a bumper yield, farmers are forced to distress sell their produce to traders from Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab since there are no cold store in the district. Truckloads of the tuber crop are being exported to these states from the district.
“We have no storage facilities here and are hence forced to sell our produce immediately after harvest. We are selling potatoes at Rs 12-13 a kg to traders. Potatoes will perish we have no cold store here,” said a potato farmer Balabhadra Nayak.
“From our area at least 80 truckloads of potatoes have been exported to other states. Much more would have been transported from interior areas of the district. This season farmers have cultivated potato extensively,” said Kishore Kumar a potato trader.
“I have come recently. My uncle and others had come earlier, now I have come. I have already despatched 25 truckloads,” said Md Mujib, another potato trader.
The state government in 2014 had prepared a road map for potato cultivation in Koraput district. The government had set a target to produce five lakh tonnes of potato by December this year and had emphasized on construction of cold store in the district. The idea for construction of cold store in the district is gathering dust in government files.
“We cannot say that the Potato Mission in the district will not be affected till the time cold stores are set up in the district. It will be certainly affected. But we can certainly make it up with construction of cold stores,” said Lingaraj Acharya, deputy director Horticulture.