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Agri Marketing dept mulls steps to prevent 'unnecessary' potato price hike

Kolkata: The state Agriculture Marketing department is preparing a plan of action to check "unnecessary" increase in the price of potato.
A meeting has been convened in the office of the department at Khadya Bhavan, where the course of action will be decided to ensure that common people do not suffer due to unnecessary increase in potato prices. The department has already identified that a section of middlemen are mainly behind the increase in the price of potato, despite the fact that there is surplus production over the annual consumption capacity in Bengal.
At present, potato in districts is getting sold at a price between Rs 16 to Rs 18. Whereas in the markets in Kolkata and its adjoining areas, the price is higher at least by Rs 2 and people are paying Rs 20 to buy a kg of potato.
Tapan Dasgupta, the Agriculture Marketing minister, said: "A meeting has been convened to discuss the issue and to prepare a plan of action to check the increase in the price of potato."
Senior officials of the department, representatives of West Bengal Cold Storage Association and the Association of Potato Traders will be attending the meeting.
"There is no valid reason for the increase in the price of potato. But it has come to our notice that the prices are going up, mainly because of a section of middlemen," said Dasgupta, adding that officials of the department have already been directed to maintain vigil at all the markets in Kolkata and the districts, so that the middlemen do not get any scope to "play foul" to increase the price of potato, until the meeting is held.
According to the senior officials of the state Agriculture department, this year the production of potato stands at 1 crore metric tonnes, while it was around 1.10 crore metric tonnes last year. But in no way is the deficit of 10 lakh metric tonnes the reason behind the increase in potato prices, as the annual requirement of potato for consumption of the people in the state is 60 lakh metric tonnes only and the remaining 40 lakh metric tonnes get exported to other states. So, in such a situation when there is excessive production, a proper plan of action is needed to ensure that the price of potato does not increase without any valid reason, the official added.
It may be mentioned that constant raids conducted by the officials of the Agriculture Marketing department has brought an end to the menace of using brick dust or soil on potato, to give it a look of superior quality.

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