Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Aug 13:
The Odisha government today decided to form a task force to work out a long term plan for production, preservation and distribution of potato in the state.
The task force, to be headed by the Agriculture secretary, will be asked to submit a report on formulation of a long term action plan for potato production and distribution in the state within one month. Secretaries of the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare and Cooperative departments will bethe other members of the committee.
“The task force will prepare a long term action plan for production, preservation and distribution of potato. It has been asked to submit the report within 30 days. I hope after the recommendation of the committee, such situation would not arise,” said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare minister Sanjay Dasburma after a meeting with these departments to finalise the modalities for the proposed task force.
In order to make the state self reliant in potato, the department would go for buffer stock of four lakh quintals of potato for one month in various cold stores in the state. The tuber will be sold through PDS in the state, the minister said.
Departmenl secretary Madhusudan Padhy said the proposal will be implemented next year. “Since the state is facing shortage of potato in the month of August, we would have the buffer stock before August next year. Later, the stock limit would decrease keeping an eye on the demand,” said Padhy.
The potato required to build up the buffer stock would be procured from Markfed and Nafed. However, the approval of the finance department is needed to go for purchase of four lakh quintals of potato through these agencies.
Market observers, however, are of the opinion that the buffer stock will at best be a short term measure. The main problem in the state is the absence of adequate number of cold stores. Out of 18 cold stores of the Cooperative department, only six are in running condition. These six cold stores can preserve barely 21,000 tons of potato, they point out. Even if the defunct cold stores become functional again, they would add an additional capacity of no more than 15, 000 tons, they say.
The mainstay in the state are the 27 private cold stores, which have a combined capacity of 1.32 lakh tons.
The state has been facing an acute crisis in potato supply for the last one week following the West Bengal government’s decision not to allow movement of potato laden trucks into Odisha.