Odisha Sun Times Bureau:
Bhubaneswar, Dec 27:
Odisha government today announced it would launch a state potato mission from next year to streamline the production, preservation and distribution of potato in the state.
Presiding over the meeting, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the Potato Task Force report submitted to the government earlier. The panel was constituted to come up with a long-term action plan to deal with intermittent potato crisis in the state.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had constituted a Task Force to submit a comprehensive action plan for production, preservation and distribution of potato in the state.
The state government has decided to give subsidy for construction and restoration of cold storages in the state.
As per reports, the total cold storage capacity of the state stands at merely 36,000 tonne, out of which about 15,000 tonne capacity are in a defunct stage.
‘‘State government has decided to launch a state potato mission from 2015-16 to make the state self-sufficient in potato production and storage of vegetables and potatoes over a period of three years. The government will continue to give capital subsidy for new cold storages as per the agricultural policy 2013. The government is also considering to provide tariff subsidy for existing and new cold storages made operational before 31 March 2018. The government will also incentivise potato seed and crop production in the state in the next three years. We will also maintain a buffer stock to deal with short-term scarcity situations,’’ Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik informed newsmen here.
The government decided to create a buffer stock of 30,000 tonne of potato in 2015.
Besides, the state government has set a target to increase area under potato cultivation to 60,000 hectares by 2017-18 against the present production over 15,000 hectares.
While the present production of potato is 2 lakh tonne, the government aims to increase it to 11.25 lakh tonne by 2017-18, said an official of agriculture department.
Similarly, it has decided to increase the potato seed production to 1.20 lakh tonne. The government also decided to build 122 cold storages by 2017-18. The state presently has 24 cold storages.
The government will extend crop insurance coverage to all blocks of the state by spending Rs. 583.58 crore in next six years. Rs. 300 crore will be allocated for the crop insurance under state plan.
It may be recalled here that the undeclared curbs by the West Bengal government had triggered a potato crunch in the state with prices escalating to Rs 50 per kg.
Notably, Odisha imports close to one million tonne of potato every year, mainly from West Bengal, to meet its annual requirement of 1.1 million tonne.
During the meeting, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Das Burma, Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy, Chief Secretary G C Pati and other senior officials were present.