BALASORE: The Agriculture Department has decided to increase the potato cultivation area in the district during the rabi season this year. The decision was taken in the wake of acute potato scarcity faced by the State last year when neighbouring West Bengal banned export of the tuber.
Official sources said it has been planned to cover 1,625 hectares (ha) of land under potato cultivation during the rabi season. Last year, the farming was taken up in nearly 1,150 ha.
The soil and climate of the coastal district is conducive for potato farming during the rabi season. As most of the areas in the district where vegetables are grown are flood-prone, potato cultivation during kharif is not beneficial.
However, potato was cultivated in nearly 900 acres during the kharif season this year. While certified potato seeds were used in 100 acres, seeds from West Bengal were planted in rest of the areas. Seed potatoes from Bengal yield more compared to the local variety.
Deputy Director of Agriculture (DDA) Gangadhar Pal said efforts are on to make the farmers familiar with the potato farming though they have been growing other vegetables.
“We have chalked out a series of activities, including creating awareness for potato production and storage. The farmers are being sensitised through various platforms. We will provide high yield potato seeds at a reasonable price. The catchment areas will be used for potato cultivation,” Pal said.
Meanwhile, the district administration has targeted to cultivate winter crops in 1,09,885 ha during rabi season. While high yield paddy will be cultivated in 30,940 ha, wheat will be grown in 340 ha, maize in 345 ha, black gram in 17,455 ha, pulses in 4,235 ha, oil seed in 26,892 ha, vegetables in 29,369 ha, sugarcane in 309 ha and other crops in 31,625 ha. Nearly 50 per cent of the target has been achieved till now, Pal claimed.
“We have provided 18,750 quintals of seeds for paddy cultivation, 17,580 quintals of groundnut seeds, 491 quintals of mustard seeds, 800 quintals of mung seeds and 450 quintals of black gram seeds. We will also supply 1,19,774 quintals of fertilizer,” he said.
Collector Sanatan Mallik has asked the agriculture officials to extend their cooperation to the farmers for achieving the target. The village agriculture workers (VAWs) in irrigated areas have been asked to encourage the farmers in their areas to go for paddy cultivation under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method.