Chandigarh, Feb 24 : Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to the Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal to press for inclusion of the state in "The Operation Greens" (TOP) scheme for promotion of potato production cluster.
In a letter to Badal, the Chief Minister has expressed concern at Punjab's exclusion from the selected list of states for promoting the potato production cluster, a spokesperson for the Chief Minister said here on Sunday.
Pointing out that the area under potato cultivation in Punjab is nearly 1 lakh hectare, with an annual production of 2.7 million million tonne, the Chief Minister said the state is at 7th position in terms of area under cultivation and at 6th in production of potatoes in the country.
He pointed out that Punjab is the hub for seed potato production, with the advantage of an aphid-free window during October-December and favourable agro-climatic conditions.
Urging the Minister to reconsider the decision to keep the state out of the scheme, the Chief Minister further pointed out that Punjab is supplying seed potato to other states, apart from meeting its own demand.
"Not only that, it had great potential to enhance potato seed production in view of its geographic location and climatic conditions," he added.
Arguing the state's case further, the Chief Minister noted that with the establishment of tissue culture and aeroponic technology at the Centre of Excellence for Potato, situated at Dhogri, Jalandhar, the whole seed potato producing area in the state shall come under certified seed potato in the coming 4-5 years.
"Also, due to the soil being free from serious pathogens and pests, particularly brown rot bacterial wilt and potato tuber moth, Punjab has already been considered a 'Pest Free Zone' for potato production," he stressed.
He said that due to lack of adequate processing infrastructure in the state, the production season often faces a glut in the market, resulting in low price realisation for the producers.
"The inclusion of Punjab in the TOP scheme would enhance the investment in processing facilities, besides ensuring proper price to the farmers through price stabilisation measures," he added.