In a bid to control the price of potato when common people are facing trouble due to the Centre’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the state government has set November 30 as the deadline to clear 14 lakh metric tonne of potatoes from cold storages.
Tapan Dasgupta, the state agriculture marketing minister, held a meeting with Cold Storage Owners’ Associations and representatives of Pragatisil Potato Traders Association on Thursday afternoon.
He said it has been clearly stated in Thursday’s meeting that the entire stock of 14 lakh metric tonne of potatoes have to be cleared by November 30. “The step has been taken to ensure that the price of potato comes down and at the same to check illegal hoarding,” he said.
He further said that no cold storage would be allowed to store potatoes before March 1, 2017. He explained: “Potato harvesting in Bengal takes place at the end of February and beginning of March. Thus, there is no need to store potatoes in cold storages before March 1, 2017. Instead, it would help to check illegal hoarding of potatoes,” he said adding that at present the people of the state are getting the recently cultivated potatoes from Punjab.
Dasgupta had visited several cold storages earlier to check the skyrocketing of potato prices and to keep a tab on the mixing of soil with potatoes and its illegal hoarding. He would be holding another meeting with cold storage owners and representatives of all the potato traders associations on November 23 to take a stock of the progress in clearing the remaining stock.
It is learnt that stringent steps would be taken in case stocks of potatoes are found in any cold storages after November 30. At present, there are around 400 cold storages in the state. Hooghly produces maximum quantity of potato among all the districts in the state and there are 126 cold storages in the district at present. Officials of the department would conduct raids at cold storages to check whether there is any illegal stock of potato. The potatoes found hoarded illegally after November 30 will be taken by the state government and it will be sold from outlets of Sufal Bangla at the right price.
The steps that the state agriculture marketing department had been taking up resulted in a decrease in the price of potato across the state. In Kolkata, the price of potato has gone down to Rs 18. It is Rs 15 in Howrah, Rs 12 in Cooch Behar and Rs 14 in Hooghly. The price would go down further with the clearance of the 14 lakh metric tonne of potato from the cold storages.