Kolkata, 21 January: In spite of delayed sowing of seeds,untimely rain and less cultivation, production of potato in West Bengal this year is expected to be a record high of around 105 lakh tonnes against the domestic consumption of around 65 lakh tonnes.
This information was shared here today by West Bengal Agricultural Marketing minister Tapan Dasgupta after inaugurating the 55th Annual General Meeting of West Bengal Cold Storage Association here this afternoon.
Speaking on the occasion the minister stressed the need for proper marketing of the excessive amount of potato this year as its production would surely surpass the domestic demand and be at least ten per cent higher than last year.
Without a proper marketing network in absence of any grading, curing, assortment and packing of potato in quality Leyno bags for their proper storage through top class standardization processes would be very difficult to sale them elsewhere, DasGupta pointed out and called for its immediate redressal through proper planning by all srakeholders.
He also suggested training of farmers under Government initiative to maintain proper quality for sale and consumption by the people.
Also speaking on the occasion and highlighting the problems being faced by the industry and its membersTarun Kanti Ghosh, President,West Bengal Cold Storage Association (WBCSA) his Deputy Rajesh Kumar Bansal underscored the need for enhancement of the quantity of locally developed potato seeds besides continuous encouragement and support from Government for cultivation of export quality potato.
Highlighting the pivotal role of cold storages for preservation of agricultural produce, especially for potato, he drew the attention of local authorities and urged them to take immediate steps to take nrecessary steps against ‘various types of opposition’affecting the Rs 500 crores Industry and those associated with it.
He said since extension of the storage period beyond November had now become very common in almost every year, necessary steps should be initiatiated to ensure that the quantum of additional rent for extended storage period should be included in the notification for periodical Rent Revision or for extension of the storage period
Further elaborating their challenges both Ghosh and Bansal pointed out that in view of periodical rise in input cost and cost of capital for cold storages, cold storage rent should be increased to Rs 180/- per quintal to bri ng it closer to other potato producing states where it varied from Rs 200/- to Rs 250/- per quintal.
In this connection both of them also suggested that cold storage rent calculation should be based on 90 per cent storage capacity instead of 100 per cent storage capacity as utilization of cent per cent capacity was rarely experienced.
Concern for exorbitant cost of obtaining fire license was also raised by both the speakers while seeking immediate release of notification on reduced rate for issuance of Fire License.
Also present on the occasion at the meeting were Pradip Kumar Mazumdar, Chief Advisor, Agriculture to the Chief Minister and Atamika Bharati, Director of Agricultural Marketing and several senior represemntatives of the cold storage industry.