BHUBANESWAR: The pricey potato has finally caught the attention of the State Government which decided to enhance its production by bringing more areas under potato cultivation.
International Potato Centre (CIP), Peru, will assist the State Government for achieving self-sufficiency in potato production within the next five years.
Farmers will be encouraged to go for commercial production of potato under a project called sustainable intensification of potato in rice-based system. The decision was taken at a meeting between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and CIP Director General Barbara Wells here on Wednesday.
While seed potatoes are now supplied to farmers during kharif and rabi at subsidised rate, it was decided to introduce seed production training programme to expand potato cultivation area in the coming years.
CIP offered to help evaluate seed potato production and provide technical backstopping and capacity-building support. The project will be designed before the planting season in November, official sources said.
Design and implementation of seed potato project in the State were also discussed with CIP top bosses at Lima during a recent visit of Agriculture Secretary Rajesh Verma and Horticulture Director Sanjeev Chadha.
Following a successful sweet potato pilot project in the State, the CIP and the Odisha Government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in December 2013 for a four-year programme called GAINS (Generating Advances in Incomes and Nutrition through sweet potato).
Given the positive feedback from farming communities, it was decided to expand the GAINS programme to four more districts __ Dhenkanal, Ganjam, Koraput and Sundargarh. The State is the largest producer of sweet potato in the country.
Currently cultivated over 15,000 hectare with an aggregate production of 2.10 lakh tonnes, the Government is looking at raising the area of coverage to 70,000 hectare in the next five years to attain self-sufficiency.
While average annual requirement of potato is about 10 lakh tonnes, the State has to depend on neighbouring West Bengal for about eight lakh tonnes. The regulation imposed by Mamata Banerjee Government on potato supply to Odisha during the last two years has triggered a crisis of tuber in the State.