Govt to prepare contingency plan to regulate potato prices

Bhubaneswar: Concerned over the steep hike in the price of potato in the state, the Odisha government has decided to prepare a contingency plan to regulate its price.

Briefing media persons after presiding over a high level meeting at the State Secretariat here on Tuesday, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare minister Sanjay Dasburma said production of potato in the country this year had come down by about 30% due to unfavourable weather conditions.

Referring to the measures the government has taken to fix the price of potato in the state, he said collectors have been directed to conduct meetings with wholesale traders to fix the retail price of potato in the districts.

“I have asked my department to direct the collectors to strictly enforce the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act to ensure that the traders are not able to take advantage of the situation and exploit the consumers by charging more price from them,” the minister added.

He further said as per the inputs of the Horticulture department, potato production in Odisha this year had fallen by about 30 percent.

Dasburma said the state government is in touch with the potato traders in West Bengal for procurement in view of the shortfall in the production in Odisha. But since potato production in the neighbouring state had also fallen by 30 percent this year, it will have a considerable impact on Odisha, which primarily depends on West Bengal to meet its shortfall, he added.

He further said his department will assess the present stock of potato in the cold storages in the state very soon.

“We had asked the cold storages to keep 50 percent of potato as buffer stock for which we had given them power subsidy. I have asked the department staffs to make a detailed assessment of the present stock in these cold storages,” he informed.

To a question as to how the Odisha traders can stock potato in the cold storages since the production had fallen by about 30 percent, Dasburma said the traders procure potato both from inside the state and neighbouring states.

“At the time of setting up the Potato Mission in the state, there was a mandate that the traders would stock potato in the cold storages on priority for which the state government has given them subsidy on power. So our first job will be to assess the volume of stock the traders have in these cold storages,” he pointed out.

Stating that the present price of potato in West Bengal is Rs 9-10 per kg, he said its retail price in Odisha would be around Rs 2-3 more taking transport and other expenses into consideration.

He said his department will prepare a contingency plan after assessing the present stock of potato in the cold storages in the state.