Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sept 1:
Being at the receiving end for acute potato shortage ever since cyclone Phailin hit the state last October and left at the whims of neighbouring West Bengal for supply, the Odisha government today decided to set a target of producing 5 lakh tons of potato in Koraput district through small, marginal and tribal farmers by the end of 2015 Rabi season.
Sanjeeb Chopra, joint secretary Union ministry of Agriculture along with a team of experts attended the meeting.
“Considering the proposal chief secretary Pati advised to include specific action plan for human resource development, seed multiplication and genetic improvement of local varieties and establishment of tissue culture labs in the project”, said an official press release.
Pati also emphasized on establishment of cold storages during this intervention. The department of horticulture has been advised to finalize the project proposal by end of September, 2014 and start field level operations simultaneously.
In line with the initiatives of the state goverment to boost up potato production, PACT has come up with the proposal for production of 5 lakh ton of potato in Koraput district by 2015 Rabi season.
The release said, soil and climate of Koraput has been found conducive for potato cultivation both during the Kharif and Rabi seasons. The farmers of district are also familiar with the crop and they are growing many traditional varieties of tuber. The better planting material supplied through the department of Horticulture has brought about observable improvement in production.
The project has been designed to expand potato farming to 50,000 acres involving 8000 farmers of 200 villages in 10 blocks of the district.
The project, to be monitored through a comprehensive accountable and transparent process built on a world class ICT platform, will include all processes “from seed to buyer” with on demand reporting system.
The cost of the project has been estimated at Rs.106 crore.
It has been decided that the project will be implemented in PPCP (Public Private and Community Partnership) mode. The project envisages fetching an annual income of Rs 2 lakh per acre to the farmers through round the year assisted farming.
Meanwhile, 18 famer interest groups have been formed with 868 farmers from 16 villages of 3 blocks -Laxmipur, Dasmanthpur and Banhugaon and approximately 4000 quintals of 11 varieties of potato have been sown for extensive trials.
The meeting was attended among others by principal secretary Agriculture Rajesh Verma, director Horticulture Sanjeeb Chadha, director Agriculture S Gopalan along with representatives from bank, project developer and officials from the Tata Group.