BHUBANESWAR: Blame the Odisha Government for the exorbitant prices of potato and its disappearance from the market. For, the crisis could have been averted, had the Government heeded the Centre’s advice for building a reserve of the essential commodity.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation had forewarned the State Government about the possibility of a scarcity and to take measures to prevent hoarding at district levels but in vain.
Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation Ashish Bahuguna, in a letter to the Government on June 19, had stated that potato prices have come under stress and the conditions would intensify if the ensuing monsoon is sub-normal which would also drive up prices of other vegetables.
The Ministry had clearly asked the Government to direct district administrations to prevent hoarding of potato as well as onions and keep a tab on its stocks in cold-storages.
The letter had advised the Government to explore possibility of advising the State marketing board and Civil Supplies Corporation “to build a strategic reserve of onions and potatoes to tide over next few months when prices are likely to come under stress”.
However, the Government did not act on the advisory which led to the crisis eventually.
In fact, the tussle with West Bengal Government over potato transportation, which led to the scarcity of the essential items, could have been moderated, had the Government learnt from its past experience.
Last year too, the Bengal Government had imposed a ban on movement of potatoes to the State leading to spiralling of prices and this time too, the problem was knocking at the doors but the Government chose not to pay attention.
In fact, in May itself, the Ministry had issued a similar advisory asking the Government to stock onions so that its price could be controlled before the kharif crop arrived.