DHENKANAL: Despite huge potential, farmers of the district feel discouraged to grow potato on a commercial basis due to lack of Government support, including market linkage and cold storage facility.
Horticulture department sources said while the district requires about two lakh quintals of potato per annum, local production fails to touch even 30 per cent of the target. In 2017-18, the district administration had targeted to cultivate potato on 65 hectares, but only 37.17 hectares were covered. At least 130 farmers were provided 557 quintals of potato seeds for cultivation. This apart, `26.64 per kg was charged for additional seeds with `10 per kg as a subsidy.
Farmers say that as per norms, they are eligible to avail the subsidy, if he/she buys one and a half quintals of potato seeds. As a result, small and marginal farmers were deprived of subsidy. Despite fertile soil and favourable weather condition, farmers in the district are reluctant to take up potato cultivation due to lack of incentives from the Government. This year, farmers of Gondia, Kamakshyanagar, Parjang and some parts of Sadar block have grown tuber on a small-scale in the district, they said.
Last year, farmers of Kankadahada block had cultivated potato over 10 ha with support from Horticulture department. Though farmers had produced four tonnes of potato, they faced difficulties for its marketing.
This year, the horticulture officials are no more motivating farmers to take up potato cultivation. At present, local markets depend on potatoes coming from West Bengal.
On the other hand, the cold storage, which was opened at Hindol Road, is lying defunct. Though the Government and Nabard had announced subsidy for opening new cold storage, private players are not showing interest to set up the facility.
Deputy Director of Horticulture Digamber Panda said the district has no functional cold storage which discourages farmers from taking up tuber cultivation. Besides, around 50 per cent vacancy of both technical and non-technical posts in the department affects horticulture in the district.