At present out of 575 cold storage units in West Bengal 460 units are dedicated to storage of potato. With active support from the Cold Storage units there is continuous rise in Potato cultivation area in the State and steady supply throughout the year. Production of potato was more than 110 lakh tons in 2015 but the production in 2016 dropped to 90-95 lakh tons due to adverse climatic conditions. This year there is a rise in cultivation to the tune of 2%-5% over that of the last year and due to favorable climatic condition till today production is expected to reach more than 115 lakh ton. It has been experienced in the past that in West Bengal, consumption within the state works out to 65 lakh tons (including seeds); production beyond 65 lakh tons needs to be marketed in neighboring states.
Government Authorities were requested for timely planning for marketing of the unprecedented excess production of potato (50 lakhs tons approx) in other states as well as outside the country to avoid distress sale of potato. Seed requirement for the area under cultivation works out to more than 6 lakh tons. About 50% of the seed required is met from the crop produced in the state. Dedicated seed production units established by the present Government in the state produce around 10% of the balance requirement and the rest is procured from other states at a premium. The Authorities requested for establishing a seed development station under CPRI in West Bengal for development of more varieties of seeds appropriate for the agroclimatic conditions of the State. In West Bengal, the current rent for storage is Rs 134 per quintal whereas in other states like UP, Gujarat etc rent is as high as Rs 200 per quintal. It was pointed out by him that due to unremunerative rent structure in the state, growth of the industry is hampered and as a result the farmers are deprived of expanding the area of cultivation and additional production. In most of the cases farmers are subjected to distress sale due to lack of storage space. The government was requested to arrive at the fair rent after considering the input costs and cost of capital. For storage of potato it is essential that good quality leno bags are used so that damage due to spillage is restricted to the minimum. It has been experienced that use of good quality leno bags above 55 gms is not ensured in all cases and inferior quality bags of lesser weight (about 45 gms) is rampantly used.
The Government Authorities were also requested to educate the farmers for storage of standard, cured, matured and soil-free potato so that standard quality of potato available in the market and price is also protected. Stoppage of use of coloring agents on potato has been achieved with the direct involvement of Government authorities and the Traders. The Government authorities were requested for creation of a industry-friendly business environment in the State, it is essential that ease of doing business is ensured through practice of simplified Rules & Regulations, Time-bound actions, Fair and Logical dealing of the issues related to conduct of business.
West Bengal Cold Storage Association is the only active Association of Cold Storages in West Bengal. Recently, the association celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2014 and this year the 52nd Annual General Meeting is convened at The Lalit Great Eastern Hotel, Kolkata. Presently more than 90% of Cold Storages in the State are member of this Association and it is the largest and only recognized body of such units in the State. This Annual General meeting was inaugurated by the Chief Guest – SHRI TAPAN DASGUPTA, Hon’ble MIC Department of Agricultural Marketing Govt of WB alongwith the presence of various eminent personalities like SRI PATIT PABAN DE, President of the Cold Storage Association of WB; SRI RAJESH KUMAR BANSAL, Secretary of the Cold Storage Association of WB; SHRI SANJEEV CHOPRA, Additional Chief Secretary & Secretary, Department of Agriculture Govt of WB; SHRI RAJESH KUMAR SINHA, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Marketing Govt of WB; DR.PRADIP KUMAR MAZUMDAR, Advisor, Agriculture to the Hon’ble Chief Minister Govt of WB; SHRI MAHENDRA SWARUP, President, Federation of Cold Storage Associations of India; SHRI SANJAY GROVER, Head – Marketing, M/s. Kirloskar Pneumatic Co. Ltd.; SHRI SACHIN BEDMUTHA, Performance – Materials, M/s. BASF Ltd. & many others. On this occasion, Sri. Patit Paban De, President of the Association Chairman, highlighted “The importance of the cold storages in development of agriculture especially for potato and drew attention of the authorities to various factors which affect the Industry and the related population of Labour, Farmer, Trader etc”