Israel is actually getting a taste of potatoes grown in Hooghly (West-Bengal, India). Recently, 40 tonnes of potato flakes, processed and packaged at the Pailan Group plant near Dhaniakhali, was shipped to Israel on a trial basis.
Should the dehydrated potatoes from near Singur agree with the Jewish palate, Poliva the company that imported the first lot worth $40,000 has agreed to return to Hooghly for more of the stuff. The Pailan Group has also received orders from Russia and Dubai.
"Should everything move according to plan, our company would procure nearly a third of the potatoes produced in Hooghly. This procurement will be directly from the farmers and there will be no involvement of middlemen. The farmers will be assured a fair price for their produce. If the need arises, we shall also supply better quality seeds to them," said Apurba Saha, chairman of the Pailan Group.
This could be the first time potato products from West Bengal have been exported. The processing plant at Dhaniakhali was originally set up as a 100% export-oriented unit. Recently, the Indian government granted it permission to market 50% of its product in the country. In October, 2010, the company participated in the World Food Processing Fair organised in France. It was there that it was contacted by Poliva, which imports food items to Israel.
"For any food item to be imported by Israel, Kosher certification is required. Representatives arrived from Europe, checked the material at the factory and stamped the bags OK (Organized Kashrut). Should this product become popular in Israel, we'll place more orders," said a Poliva representative.
According to Saha, it takes nearly seven tonnes of Hooghly potatoes to produce a tonne of flakes. But nothing will go to waste. The Pailan Group has signed an MoU with Taiwan to use the residual starch to manufacture cattle feed cakes. Taiwan will set up the machinery and buy back the starch cakes which have a huge demand in countries like Australia.