The Bengal government on Sunday notified that Poila Boisakh, (the first day of the month of Boisakh of the Bengali calendar year) will be observed as State Day and it will be named Bangla Divas.
The Bengal government is planning to invite publicprivate participation in onion, orange and pineapple procurement, storage and processing with an ambition to ensure both self reliance and availability of the produce in times of shortage, said Arup Roy, state food processing and horticulture minister.
The production, however is left in the hands of private cultivators and the Krishi Vijnan Kendra, the Comprehensive Area Development Corporation, collectively. The minister inaugurated green apple and Thai Mandarin garden at the the Horticulture Research and Development Centre here in Bankura yesterday.
Also, a retail counter named ‘Mrinmoyee’ showcasing earthen crafts of the district, a cottage named ‘Bakul’ was inaugurated within the HRD Centre to inspire eco-hortitourism where too a private player was introduced. Additional Chief Secretary of the Food Processing and Horticulture department Dr Subrata Gupta was also present with other senior officials at the venue. The minister told The Statesman: “Successful orchid cultivation on 23,000 square metres of fertile land at Narayangarh in West Midnapore has shown us hope about the positive prospect of the plant in South Bengal too.” Bengal, incidentally struggles hard each year to overcome an average shortfall of 6 lakh MT of onion as the estimated demand is pegged at around 13.33 lakh MT against the state’s average production of 6.07 lakh MT on 37,400 hectares.
The shortfall is met through imports from Maharashtra, Bihar and Karnataka. During Rabi season, Bengal’s production is recorded at nearly 3.04 MT against an estimated demand of 3.33 MT leading to a shortfall of around 29,000 MT. Districts like Hooghly, North 24-Parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad, Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum, West Midnapore and Malda cultivate onion as their soil condition and climate are suitable.
The KVK, Sonamukhi, under the guidence of scientist Tapan Maity of Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Nadia introduced onion cultivation in monsoon in Bankura, in 2012. Subhashis Batabyal, chairman, KVK, Sonamukhi, said: “Besides procurement from other states during their harvest for preservation, we need to scale up production gradually to become self reliant on onion within the next few years.” He added: “We’ve started developing ‘Bij Gram (seed villages)’ in our district to secure availability for the cultivators, which has started yielding positive impacts.”