Govt not to import potato; asks people to cooperate

Bhubaneswar: In yet another blow to the consumers in the state, the Odisha government on Monday made it clear that it will not import potato from neighbouring states as its price has gone up there substantially.

With this announcement, it has now become clear that the consumers will have to bear with the high price of the potato which is bound to soar up further in the coming days.

While the government has sought cooperation from the people, it has warned hoarders of stern action against stacking potato illegally.

To deal with the potato crisis in the state, a meeting was held for the first time among the Food Supply and Consumer Welfare, Agriculture and Cooperation departments.

It was expected that the meeting will come up with a solution to the prevailing crisis. But it did not happen as the ministers of the three respective departments sought to take refuge behind the plea that bad weather this year had accounted for poor production of potato not only in Odisha but also in the country!

Talking to media persons after the meeting, Cooperation minister Damodar Rout said considering the all-India average price of potato, it has been found that the price of potato in the neighbouring states is much higher than in Odisha at present.

“With the existing price of potato in the neighbouring states from where Odisha usually imports to meet its requirement, the state government cannot go for the import. It will hit the consumer hard as they will have to purchase it at a much higher price. In such a critical situation, the people of Odisha should be patient and cooperate with the state government,” Rout said.

He further said despite the existing market price of potato, the state government is trying alternative measures to overcome the crisis.

Claiming that potato production in the state this year will be about 3 lakh tonne, Agriculture minister Pradip Maharathy said the exact production will be known after a few days as the harvesting is not yet complete.

“Potato production in the state last year was 2.5 lakh tonne from 15,000 hectares. This year, we had grown potato in 30,000 hectares and were expecting at least 4-5 lakh tonne. But to our bad luck, the production was much below our expectation. We hope that the production will be about 3 lakh tonne,” he added.

Talking about the storage facility, Maharathi said the state government has planned to set up 112 cold storages to store potato of which construction of six has been completed while 46 more are targeted to be completed within the next four months.

Talking to media persons, Food Supply and Consumer Welfare, Sanjay Dasburma said there was no contingency plan to procure potato from the neighbouring states.

But he said senior officials of the three aforesaid departments will be sent to West Bengal and submit a ground report to the government after studying the prevailing market price of potato there.

“On the basis of the report, I along with the Agiculture and Cooperation ministers will have another round meeting to decide the next course of action.” Dasburma said.