Agri Business

Potato to turn hot on Bengal blight attack

Ayan Pramanik Kolkata | Updated on February 14, 2014 Published on February 14, 2014

BL14_AGR_POTATO

Output will be affected as disease hits crop in Purba Midnapore and Bankura districts

A late blight attack may impact West Bengal’s potato production this year.

The West Bengal Agriculture Marketing Department had projected nearly a 10 per cent growth in production initially to approximately 100 lakh tonnes (lt) this season.

This was against the State producing 91 lt last year.

Key producer

However, Patit Paban De, a member of West Bengal Cold Storage Association, said that production may suffer due to recent incidences of blight attack in Purba Midnapore and Bankura districts.

Purba Midnapore is a key potato producing district in West Bengal.

Though he couldn’t ascertain the production loss, De feels it would be a reason enough to keep prices firm this season. State Agriculture Secretary Subrata Biswas was not available for comment.

“Bengal’s potato production will be affected due to late blight attack and total production may not be 100 lt as anticipated,” De said on Thursday on the sidelines of the 49{+t}{+h} Annual General Meeting of the cold storage body here.

De said that prices of the early variety potato (farm-end) ruled between ₹700 and ₹750 a quintal, up by ₹50 over last week.

“Prices may go up further since production will be hit this year,” he said. As a result, according to an industry expert, potato prices in retail markets will rule high.

The cold storage association has sought the State Government’s intervention in availing 40 per cent capital subsidy for setting up new cold storages provided by the National Horticulture Board. West Bengal has 458 cold storages for potato as of now. About 30-odd cold storages have been added over the past year.

NHB subsidy

Rampada Paul, President of the association, said cold storage operators are not eligible for the NHB subsidy, since the preservation rates at cold storages in Bengal are controlled by the State Government.

“So, we have requested the State Government to help us avail of the subsidy provided by the Centre or offer a similar package,” Paul said.

Also, the Association has demanded that a branch of the Central Potato Research Institute should be opened in the second largest potato growing State.

“Once a branch of the research institute is set up in Bengal, farmers here can get seeds grown on the regional agro-climatic condition, thereby reducing production cost,” Paul said.

Published on February 14, 2014
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