Faced with recurring potato crises in the recent past, the Odisha government has decided to implement the 'Potato Mission' from 2015-16 that seeks to ramp up tuber output in the state to 1.12 million tonne by 2017-18 up from 0.2 million tonne presently.
The Mission was decided to be implemented after the report of the potato task force was approved at a high-level meeting on Saturday chaired by chief minister Naveen Patnaik. The task force was constituted under the chairmanship of Rajesh Verma, principal secretary (agriculture & food production) to suggest a roadmap to make the state self sufficient in tuber production.
Area under potato cultivation has been envisaged to be raised to 60,000 hectare (ha) by 2017-18 from the existing 15,000 hectare.
Presently, farmers in the state are encouraged to take up potato cultivation in clusters under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). Crop insurance for potato is now available for 93 blocks in the state. Plans are afoot to extend it to all the 310 blocks. This will entail an expenditure of Rs 583.58 crore in six years.
Odisha's daily requirement of potato is about 2,500-3,000 tonne, most of which is sourced from West Bengal. The state faced an acute potato crisis in the monsoon months of July and August after West Bengal imposed some undeclared curbs on potato supplies. This had led to skyrocketing of retail potato prices at Rs 50 per kg.
Hit by crisis, the state government planned to build a buffer stock for potatoes.
Presently, 15 cold storages including five in the cooperative sector and 10 private players have agreed to earmark space for around 31,000 tonne for potato buffer stock by Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC). The directorate of horticulture would link the storage capacity with the farmers/farmer groups. In addition to the available cold storage capacity of 31,000 tonne, another cold storage with 5,000 tonne storage capacity is expected to be readied in Jajpur.
The liquidation of potato buffer stock has been pegged at approximately 20 per cent in August, 30 per cent in September, 30 per cent in October and 20 per cent in November 2015. The liquidation would be supervised by a steering committee chaired by secretary (food supplies & consumer welfare) depending on market conditions and availability of potato. The liquidated stock would be sold at the prevailing market price through FPS (fair price shops) outlets by OSCSC Ltd.