Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 24:
Proving the proverb ‘once bitten twice shy’, the Odisha government has decided to maintain a buffer stock of four lakh quintals of potatoes this year in a bid to avoid a repeat of the situation last year when the refusal of the Mamata Banerjee government to allow trasnport of the tuber to the state led to a crisis in its supply that lasted several weeks at a strech and saw the price of this kitchen essential skyrocket as high as Rs 50 a kilo.
The plan to maintain a buffer stock was part of the ‘Potato Buffer Scheme-2015’ announced by the Food Supply and Consumer Welfare department on Monday.
The scheme envisages procurement of potatoes from farmers of the state in advance and its sale at the time of shortage/crisis between August and November. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has given his approval to scheme, sources said.
While the annual consumption of potato in Odisha is 10.21 lakh tonnes, the stocked potatoes will be utilized only at the time of crisis.
Departmental sources said both MARKFED and NAFED will procure potatoes from farmers in the state from the current month till April at Rs 600 a quintal or at a price which is Rs 150 less per quintal than the wholesale rate in the Bhubaneswar market rate, whichever is higher. The wholesale procurement rate, to be revised wverey week, will be the average of the rates prevailing in the Bhubaneswar market from Monday to Friday.
As per the scheme, MARKFED will be entrusted with procurement of 85,000 quintals of potatoes from farmers of seven districts in undivided Cuttack and Puri districts, which will be stored in four cold stores located at Jagatpur, Nimapara, Bhubaneswar and Satasankha. In the remaining 23 districts, NAFED will procure of 2.05 lakh quintals from the farmers, which will be stored in 11 identified cold storages, departmental sources said.
Out of the potatoes stocked up in cold storages, 20 percent each will be released to the markets in August and November while 30 percent each will be released in September and October.
The state government will form a corpus fund of Rs 50 crore for the purpose, departmental sources revealed.