state&’s over-dependence and inability to utilise resources exposed
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Jagatsinghpur, 14 November
The ongoing potato crisis seems to have exposed at least two things~ Odisha&’s over-dependence on other states and the government&’s failure to utilise its resources to the fullest.
Farmers and agriculturalists in Jagatsinghpur claimed that the crisis would not have arisen at all~ or, at least the intensity would have been less severe~ had the government acted with a more farsighted manner and actually promoted agriculture and allied sectors.
Some of them were of the view that Odisha, though have ample scope for production of good quantities of potato and thus, has every potential to be a supplying state, is now desperately looking for “mercy” of some neighbouring states to cater to its potato needs.
Their observation is not without ground. Jagatsinghpur devotes even less than 10 per cent of its cultivable land area to potato farming these days as the farmers are quite reluctant for the tuber cultivation over absence of storage and poor marketing facilities.
“Though there is no otherwise problem, potato cultivation in Jagatsinghpur is very poor. A maximum of about 10,000 hectare land of the nearly one lakh hectare cultivable land is devoted to potato farming. Farmers are not interested only due to lack of storage facilities and market linkage,” said a farmer leader.
According to sources, there are two cold storages in Jagatsinghpur and Raghunathpur areas in the district; however, both are now defunct. “Being run by a cooperative society, the cold storage at Jagatsinghpur has been defunct for last 20 years while the private cold storage at Raghunathpur is also not functioning due to financial crisis. It means we do not have a single cold storage to store our products. Why should the farmers evince interest to grow potato when they are sure to incur loss?” questioned an agricultural scientist, wishing not to be named. Meanwhile, the matter was discussed in a district-level meeting convened to review the development projects.
The deputy chairman of State Planning Board, Mr Surendra Nath Naik, who chaired the meeting, asked the district administration to send a proposal for revival of the cold storage units.
“Mr Naik stressed on reviving the units and suggested that it can be undertaken under public private partnership mode (PPP). We will shortly submit a report and suggestion to the Board,” said a senior district official.