Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 11:
If Agriculture minister Pradip Maharathy is to be believed, Odisha, where potato crisis has become a near annual affair, will stop depending on other states for the tuber and actually start exporting potato by 2017-18.
“We are not yet able to produce potato as per our requirement. There is no shame in accepting the truth. A Task Force has been formed as per the direction of Chief Minister to study the issue. The Principal Secretary, Secretary and Horticulture Director are part of it. We will use advanced seeds to improve production. We are targeting production of 11 lakh metric tonnes of potato by 2017 even though the requirement of the state is 10 lakh metric tonnes,” Maharathy told the Assembly today.
Replying to a question asked by Brajarajnagar MLA Radharani Panda, the Agroculture minister said the government plans to take potato production to 11, 12, 000 metric tonnes within the next three years.
“Potato will be cultivated in 60, 000 hectares of land by 2017. The government will set up 112 multi cold storages. Entrepreneurs will get a 70% subsidy if they set up cold storages in KBK districts and 55% in the rest of the state. The Government is also considering giving them subsidies in power tariff,” he said.
The minsiter’s bombast was predictably met with derision by the Opposition
“The government couldn’t do it in 14 years. How are they going to do it in two years? They are trying to fool the people. The state is importing potato and that is why I had raised the issue in the assembly today,” said Das.
Panda had asked what has the government done for potato crisis in the state this year; how many workshops have been conducted so far; what is the government doing to address lack of quality seeds, facilitate loans on fertilizer and which type of soil is considered best for potato cultivation.