During the India International Potato Expo-2008, to be held in the city from January 9 to 11, the state government plans to release CDs educating the farmers about the nature, causes and consequences of Blight. “The CDs will be in English and Bengali. It is very important that the farmers are trained to deal with the menace,” said state agriculture secretary, Sanjeev Chopra.
The expo is being jointly organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the state government. According to Chopra, around 500 farmers will visit a farm off the Chandrakona Road to learn about best practices in potato cultivation.
“We are planning to open up three state-of-the-art seed-testing laboratories in the state in the next two years,” Chopra said.
The state agriculture department will also launch a special edition of its magazine, Vasundhara, focusing on potato cultivation.
Several multinationals like ITC, Frito-Lay and PepsiCo will also participate in the seminar. Institutions such as Yes Bank and the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), Simla, will present studies and documentaries on the potato cultivation scenario at the event.
Agriculture dept mulls e-auction of potatoes
Following the footsteps of the United Nations, which is celebrating 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, the state government is taking initiatives to boost its cultivation. Potato is the second most important crop in the state after rice.
E-auction of potatoes is being pondered over by the agriculture department. The method will give the Bengal farmer flexibility to sell his produce in any market in the country. “We are exploring the possibilities of tying up with Bangalore-based Safal National Exchange (SNX) to facilitate the e-auction,” said state agriculture secretary, Sanjeev Chopra.
Clarifying that the move will not lead to shortage of potatoes for domestic consumption within Bengal, Chopra explained: “Bengal potato farmers will sell their crop in another state only if the price differential is around 20-40 per cent. So things will eventually balance out.”
State agriculture minister Naren De may visit Bangalore in February to take the issue further. SNX is a commodity exchange platform conceived jointly by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), MCX and Financial Technologies Ltd.