Odisha State plan for self-sufficiency for seed potatoes hits roadblock

Seed Potatoes

The Odisha State Government’s plan to achieve self- sufficiency in seed potato production has gone for a toss with the National Seeds Corporation (NSC) and National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) backing out of its commitment to produce quality seeds within the State.

The State Government had signed MoUs with the National Seeds Corporation (NSC) and NHRDF for production of seed potato within the State under its area expansion programme. Under the State Potato Mission launched last year, it has been planned to take up potato cultivation over an area of 30,000 hectares in 2015-16.

As per the MoU signed with NSC, the national agency will produce 50,000 quintals of seed potatoes and 1,500 quintals of onion seeds in the fields of farmers of Odisha during 2015-16.

The NSC had agreed to supply one lakh quintals of seed potato and 2,000 quintals of onion seeds during 2015-16 while the target for 2016-17 is 1.5 lakh quintals of seed potato and 2,500 quintals of onion seeds.

The Horticulture department has also signed MoU with NHRDF for production of seed potato within the State to meet the increasing demand of the farmers. The national research organisation has expressed its inability to produce the entire quantity of seed potato for which it had signed agreement with the State. Lack of infrastructure and adequate manpower, high incidence of wilt disease in potato crops and inadequate data on prevalence of disease and pest and temperature fluctuation are cited as the reasons by NHRDF for not honouring its commitment.

Both the NHRDF and NSC have requested the State Government to allow them to take up seed production outside Odisha to meet their obligations.

The issue was discussed at a meeting here recently. The meeting chaired by Horticulture Director Susanta Nanda decided to move the State Government for approval of the proposal of the two national agencies and formation of a committee for verification of seed plots outside the State.

The meeting decided that the Odisha State Seeds Corporation (OSSC) and the Odisha State Cashewnut Development Corporation (OSCDC) will take up seed production in the State by extending all possible assistance to the farmers.

The Odisha State Government has targeted to expand the area for potato cultivation to 45,000 ha in 2016-17 and 60,000 ha in 2017-18 to achieve the targeted production of 11.25 lakh MTs by 2017-18 FY.