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November 17, 2013

Govt to sell potato seeds to farmers from next week

Govt to sell potato seeds to farmers from next week

The state agriculture marketing department will start distribution of potato seeds to farmers in four districts at cheaper rates beginning next week. The move will benefit around 25,000 farmers of potato-cultivating blocks in West Midnapore, Hooghly, Burdwan and Birbhum.

Procuring seeds at cheaper rates will automatically reduce the cultivation cost of farmers, thereby ruling out apprehensions of distress sale. It is being apprehended that farmers might have to go for distress sale since there is likely to be surplus production following the state government's ban on sale of potatoes outside Bengal.

In such a situation, farmers might not get profitable prices for their produce. But a dip in production cost will help address the issue. The department will set up 15 centres for seed distribution at agriculture development offices of the blocks.

The market price of potato seeds is Rs 35-40 per kg, but the department will provide the seeds at Rs 18 per kg. Farmers will be able to collect a maximum of two packets (amounting a total of 100 kg) from the centres.  

Agriculture marketing secretary Subrata Biswas said the potato seeds which are to be distributed to farmers had been cultivated in the state itself. This is the first time that potato seeds have been cultivated in Bengal; until now, they used to be procured from other states, Mr Biswas said.

He stressed that the potato seeds were not of inferior quality, despite apprehensions to the contrary. It may be recalled that in the wake of the potato crisis, Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee had assured setting up of such fair price shops across the state for selling seeds and fertilisers.

The first set of such fair price shops will be opened in these four districts.