BHUBANESWAR: With no concrete plan yet to develop cold storage facilities, the State Government is bound to fail in its potato mission.
The mission launched last year has mandated the Horticulture Directorate to bring in self-sufficiency in potato production, storage and distribution over the next three years.
Since the State is procuring its entire requirement of seed potato from outside agencies, the mission has set a target to produce about 1.20 lakh tonnes of certified and G3/G4 (nuclear to generation) seed potatoes.
The Government had promised to provide incentive of `35,000 per hectare (ha) to farmers for seed production. The area targeted to be covered under seed production in 2015-16 was 1500 ha.
Though farmers are ready to take up seed production, there is no initiative from the Government to involve them in the mission.
“We have no trust in the Government as we are yet to get the incentive for the potato procured from us,” said Basant Barik, a farmer from Rairamchandrapur village in Balasore district.
After facing acute shortage of potato during the last few years due to embargo on supply from West Bengal, the State Government had announced an incentive of Rs 18,000 per ha last year to encourage farmers to go for commercial production of potato.
Encouraged by the promised incentive, a large number of farmers took up potato cultivation and the tuber production this year was almost double the last year’s harvest. But the farmers did not get the minimum support price of `6 per kg due to low procurement by the Government.
The Government procured only 400 tonnes of potato from farmers against its target of 29,000 tonnes for maintaining buffer stock to combat short supply from the neighbouring State. The farmers are yet to be paid the promised incentives.
The Odisha State Seeds Corporation (OSSC) and Odisha Agro-Industries Corporation (OAIC) have purchased 200 quintals of potato seeds each for supply to farmers during the last kharif. The procured seeds were damaged before reaching the farmers due to improper storage.
Whatever seeds reached the farmers either failed to germinate or gave a very low yield.
The State Government has set an ambitious target to create an additional six lakh tonne capacity of cold storage by 2017-18 with establishment of 112 cold stores. Even after six months of launching the mission, there is hardly any progress on the storage front.