Kolkata, Sep 12 (UNI) In the wake of rise in potato prices over the past couple of weeks, the West Bengal Government has decided to take stock of daily release of potatoes from 460-odd cold storages across the state to keep the prices in check. The price of potato hovered around Rs 22 to 25 per kg in the middle of August, now it is touching Rs 35.
The agriculture marketing department sources said the state had produced about 90 lakh tonnes of potato this year, while its annual production was around 110 lakh tonnes.
But the less production has little to do with the sudden hike in prices as the state’s annual consumption requirement is about 60 lakh tonnes.
In a bid to get rid of the situation and make potato available at Rs 25 a kg, the Bengal government has asked all the cold stores located in potato producing districts like Hooghly, East Burdwan and Birbhum to file a regular report mentioning daily release of potatoes.
“District officials were also asked to note the name of the farmers who are taking potatoes out from the cold storages to track their place of supply,” a state government official here on Saturday said.
He said about 55 lakh tonnes of potato were stored in the cold stores in March, which was enough to meet the state’s consumption requirement till December when the fresh produce starts arriving in markets.
However, a section of the officials said that there is a trend to hold the crop when price is rising and the middlemen become active to create an artificial crisis by holding back the stock.
The district authorities had been asked to deploy block level officials to maintain a record of the quantum of potato released from each of the cold stores everyday.
Similarly, police have been asked to maintain a strict vigil on inter-state borders and markets to ensure that the commodity is not being taken away from the state in an unauthorised way.
Birbhum district magistrate Moumita Godara Basu said. “We have already asked all the cold storages to give us details of potatoes released from their stores and names and contact number of the farmers who took the produce out of the stores.
Additional district magistrate in East Burdwan Humayun Biswas said: “Our teams are regularly visiting the markets to get the stock of the situation.”
A strong vigil in the inter-state borders has been initiated as many middlemen were trying to sell the crop in the neighbouring states like Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha as the price of the crop is higher in those states compared to Bengal.