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State's lone govt packhouse facility to be revamped

KOLKATA: In a major boost to the export of vegetables and fruits, the state Food Processing Industries & Horticulture (FPI& H) department is all set to revamp its packhouse facility at Nilganj in Barasat in PPP mode.

"We have already selected the agency by floating a tender that will take up the renovation work. It had been lying unused since the past eight years. The agreement will be signed soon. The packhouse will be equipped with all modern facilities for sorting, grading, testing, packing,"Subrata Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary, FPI& H department said.

According to sources, the packhouse facility that was looked after by an association of exporters had been lying in a neglected state as the latter had shifted to a private packhouse for business monopoly.

There are small packhouses in the private sector from where presently the items are exported. The Barasat packhouse is the only government facility. Bengal produced 29.55 million tonnes of vegetables in 2018-19 and exported 1.43 lakh tonnes, estimated at Rs 258 crore. Despite emerging as the top state in vegetable production, Bengal accounts for only around 20 per cent of the country's total exports of fruits and vegetables.

There is a lot of scope for exporting green chillies, okra (ladies finger), all kinds of leafy vegetables, betel leaf, certain varieties of lemon like Gandharaj and Kagaji from Bengal. However, lack of packhouse facilities has been a deterrent.

Export of fruits and vegetables particularly to the European Union has been suffering reasonably with the packhouse lying in neglected state.

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