Mamata Govt Stops Taking Potato-Seed From 4 States, Price Hike May Hit Market Soon

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Kolkata: The price of potato may rise in Winter as West Bengal would not take potato-seed from Himachal Pradesh, Jammu And Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Punjab anymore. Initially it could be effective to the market.

The identified pest is ‘Potato Cyst Nematode’ (microscopic parasite) which has, so far, been reported only in four states. The ban was notified by the agriculture ministry on October 12 ahead of the sowing season of this horticulture crops.

The move to ban movement of potato seeds from these four states to other states may turn the latter ‘pest-free zones’ and potential producer for export market.

“The ‘Potato Cyst Nematode’ cannot survive in plains. We have not reported any instance of such pest beyond hilly regions of north India and Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu. The notification is, however, issued as a precautionary measure so that our export doesn’t get affected,” said Swarup Chakrabarti, director of the Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla.

Though India with production of 48.5 million tonnes (MT) in 2017-18 is the second largest producer of potato in the world, it could export only less than 1% of its total output as the country has not been able to tap European and American markets due to their strict phyto-sanitary protocol.

P K Chakrabarty, assistant director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), said the move was in tune with India’s commitment to maintain highest export standard in terms of agricultural and horticultural produce.

“Though ‘Potato Cyst Nematode’ had been reported only in hilly regions (2,000 meters above sea level), the notification will remove any kind of apprehension of its spread to other regions,” he said.

Exports of potato from India increased from 1,93,085 tonnes in 2011-12 valued at Rs 133 crore to 3,95,748 tonnes worth Rs 411 crore in 2017-18. Its share is, however, quite low in the country’s export basket of fruits & vegetables (worth Rs 9,410 crore in 2017-18).

Focus on potato export will help farmers who have to invariably face the problem of plenty in case of bumper production as it results in price crash, affecting their income. The country had early this year reported several instances where farmers had to dump their produce at throw away prices due to glut in the market.

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