CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to the Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal pressing for inclusion of Punjab in the Operation Greens scheme, which is aimed at supporting the production of tomato, onion and potato.
In his letter to Badal, the chief minister expressed concerns over Punjab's exclusion from the list of states identified for the Operation Greens scheme and especially drew attention towards the promotion of potato production cluster.
The area under potato cultivation in Punjab was nearly 1 lakh hectares with an annual production of 2.7 million tonne, the chief minister said the state was at the seventh position in area under cultivation and sixth in production of potatoes in the country.
Amarinder, as per an official release here on Sunday, further noted that Punjab was the hub for seed potato production, with the advantage of an aphid-free (aphid is a small bug which feeds by sucking sap from plants) window during October-December and favourable agro-climatic conditions.
Urging the minister to reconsider the decision, the chief minister further pointed out that Punjab was supplying seed potato to other states, apart from meeting its own demand.
Not only that, it had great potential to enhance potato seed production in view of its geographic location and climatic conditions, he added.
Arguing the state's case further, Amarinder said with the establishment of tissue culture and aeroponic technology at the centre of excellence for potato, at Dhogri in Jalandhar, the whole seed potato producing area in the state shall come under certified seed potato in the coming 4-5 years.
Also, due to the soil being free from serious pathogens and pests, particularly brown rot bacterial wilt and potato tuber moth, Punjab had been considered a pest free zone for potato production, he stressed.
The chief minister, in his letter, urged the union minister to appreciate the fact that due to lack of adequate processing infrastructure in the State, the production season often faces a glut in the market, resulting in low price realization for the producers.
The inclusion of Punjab in the TOP scheme would enhance the investment in processing facilities, besides ensuring proper price to the farmers through price stabilisation measures, he added.
Given this, he urged the minister include Punjab in Operation Greens (TOP), especially for potato clusters.
The Operation Greens was announced by the Centre to stabilise the supply of tomato, onion and potato (TOP) crops and to ensure availability of TOP crops throughout the country round the year without price volatility.