Kolkata, Feb 22: Predicting a bumper harvest of potato this season, the West Bengal Cabinet on Monday decided to allow cold storage owners to purchase at least 10 lakh metric tonne of tuber from farmers at a fixed price, so that they do not have to suffer losses, a senior official said. The state government will also help the cold storage authorities in case they require bank loans for making the purchase at Rs 6 per kilogram, Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

However, this mechanism is for Jyoti variety of potato only. It has been witnessed in the past that in the event of a bountiful production, a section of potato farmers leave their produce in the agricultural field knowing that it would be difficult for them to realise even the cost of transportation.

“We are expecting a bumper production of potato this season. So, lakhs of potato farmers in Hooghly, Purba Bardhaman, Paschim Medinipur, Bankura, Coochebehar, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Howrah and Uttar Dinajpur districts may not be able to get the proper price. “The Cabinet has decided to allow cold storage owners to purchase potato from the farmers at a reasonable price,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Potato can later be brought out from cold storages and sold when the demand increases, he said. “The Cabinet also approved a proposal for taking up a rehabilitation project of distressed dams and barrages under the Irrigation and Waterways Department with assistance from the World Bank,” the CS said.

A total of Rs 3,000 crore has been allotted for the project. Work will be carried out at Massanjore dam, Kangsabati dam, Shilabati dam, Tilpara Mihirlal barrage and others in various districts, Irrigation & Waterways Department secretary Naveen Prakash said.

The World Bank will provide aid of 70 per cent of the project cost and the remaining 30 per cent will be borne by the state government, he said.

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