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Opening of Punjab’s Centre of Excellence for Potato delayed

The Potato Centre of Excellence in Jalandhar, Punjab is still under construction

The Potato Centre of Excellence, Punjab’s only centre of its kind being set up at Dhogri village in Jalandhar, has not been completed yet, though the deadline for the project was 2015.

The centre was to be set up under the aegis of an Indo-Dutch joint agriculture working group with a focus on quality seed potato, suitable farm mechanisation and disease management technology. The aim behind setting up this centre is to provide quality seeds to the potato growers.

The centre was to have facilities for tissue culture, net houses, cold store, a laboratory for routine tests, drip irrigation, solar pumps and planting machines along with grading and packing equipment.

A visit to the centre, however, revealed that no service is being provided to the farmers at present.

Paramjit Singh, Project Officer, informed that the centre will start working from next month. Since the potato season starts in October, all work will be done accordingly by using innovative technology. The amount of Rs 11.15 crore will be spent on completing the centre as till now, nearly Rs 5 crore has been spent on the centre, the officials said. Dr Damandeep Singh, Horticulture Development Officer (HDO), said the talks on the scheme were first started in the year 2014.

The officials further informed that the cold store is yet to be set up at the centre along with the machinery that will be used for sowing and harvesting potato. Even the electricity work at the centre is being completed and is not yet over. The solar pumps also are yet to be installed.

A tissue culture lab has been constructed but it is without any equipment at present.

The project officer said the lab will start functioning in the month of September. By using the tissue culture technique, the seed is grown under favourable conditions in a tube and is disease-free.

At present, there are three technical staff members including two belonging to Class IV.

The officials said that for the tissue culture lab, around four staff members who have expertise in the field, will be needed.