Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Aug 20:
As part of its efforts to become self-sufficient in potato production, the Odisha government has sought the support of International Potato Center (CIP), headquartered in Lima, Peru.
The government will initiate a project ‘Sustainable intensification of potato in rice-based systems in Odisha for increasing productivity and profitability’ with the assistance of CIP to produce improved varieties of potato in regions with warm climatic conditions.
It was decided at a meeting between chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Director General of CIP Barbara Wells at state secretariat here today.
While potato growers will be trained to produce potato seeds, the government will take steps to create adequate storage facilities in rural areas with minimal investment.
Agriculture secretary Rajesh Verma, along with other officials, had visited Lima in May this year and discussed with CIP the issue of potato seed production in the state. At that time, CIP had offered to help evaluate seed potato production and to provide technical backstopping and capacity-building support.
According to data made available by the Civil Supplies department, while Odisha requires 912.859 thousand tonnes of potatoes per year, it produces no more than 201.05 thousand tonnes – a shortfall of 711.854 thousand tonnes which has to be made good with imports from outside, primarily the neighbouring state of West Bengal.
It is to be noted that CIP and the government of Odisha had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2013 for a four-year program called GAINS (Generating Advances in Incomes and Nutrition through Sweet potato) to produce sweet potato. Meanwhile, the government has decided that GAINS would be expanded to four other districts: Ganjam, Sundargarh, Dhenkanal and Koraput.
Odisha is the number one sweet potato grower in the country.