KORAPUT: The much-hyped potato mission launched in 2014-15 to achieve self-sufficiency in tuber production and storage capacity in four years has proved to be a failure in the district.Though the officials in the district horticulture department expected a bumper crop in 2014-15 with a coverage area of 1,300 hectares (ha), only 600 ha were cultivated. They were optimistic about achieving the target of 85,000 tonnes in four years. But lack of quality seeds, staff crunch and unfavourable weather condition are the key factors behind low potato production.
On the other hand, the district horticulture department came under scanner after it failed to collect `37 lakh from potato growers towards cost of seeds.The department had procured 9,000 quintals of potato seeds at a cost of `1.39 crore from Jalandhar in Punjab for cultivation over 600 ha in 2014-15.Two private agencies, which were engaged for implementation of the mission in the district, had supplied seeds to farmers at subsidised rate as per Government norms. But the department failed to collect `37 lakh subsidy amount from the agencies.
In 2015-16, the department had targeted to cover 3,400 ha in both rabi and kharif seasons. Subsequently, it placed indent of 2,360 quintals for kharif and 1,853 quintals for rabi crops mobilising 1,050 farmers in the district. But only 280 ha were covered. Similarly in 2016-17, the target was 500 ha and only 206 ha were cultivated. “It’s true that we could not achieve the target set under the mission but there has been a slight increase in total production compared to 2014-15. Last year’s weather condition did not suit potato cultivation,” said an officer in the horticulture department.
In 2017-18, the department has targeted to cover 3,100 ha for both rabi and kharif crops and placed an indent of 908 quintals of potato seeds. However, only 60 ha were covered in rabi season, official sources said.
Deputy Director Horticulture Sankarsan Rout said though the soil in Koraput has potential for good potato production, farmers are deprived of getting adequate quality seeds and cold storage facilities. While the cold storage at Ambaguda is running smoothly, another facility at Sunabeda will be made functional by December, he added.
Wholesalers told to restrict profit margin
Jharsuguda: With no sign of potato prices coming down, the district administration has asked the wholesalers to restrict their profit margin within 3 per cent. During a meeting chaired by District Civil Supply Officer (CSO) Uditnarayan Patnaik, it was decided that stringent action will be taken against the violators. The district requires 150 tonnes of potato daily.