Bengal launches campaign to increase potato consumption

Written by Economy Bureau | Kolkata, Aug 26 | Updated: Aug 27 2008, 06:38am hrs
The West Bengal government, along with the West Bengal Cold Storage Association (WBCSA), has launched an awareness campaign with an aim to increase per capita consumption of potato as well as prevent losses made by farmers.

The programme comes in line with the United Nation's declaration of 2008 as the International Year of the Potato.

Mortaza Hossain, state agriculture & marketing development minister, said a lot of misconceptions in regard to potato consumption are causing serious problems for potato growers.

India's per capita potato consumption is 26kg per annum, which is much lower compared with Germany's 165kg and an average of 86kg for other European countries.

West Bengal produced 8.8 million tonne of potato during 2007-08, an increase of 25% over the previous fiscal.

However, the market here could not absorb the entire production.

According to Patit Paban De, president of the WBCSA, there are around 370 potato cold storages in West Bengal with a loading capacity of 5.4m tonne. If they are fully loaded, the current consumption pattern in the state is not enough to clear the stock within the next harvest.

The association will sign a memorandum of understanding with the West Bengal State Marketing Board with necessary financial assistance from the National Horticulture Board to create awareness about potato.

Though a huge number of people believe that over consumption of potato is detrimental to health, according to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), it is not that harmful as much as it is perceived.

The IMA will join the campaign to demystify some of the misconceptions regarding potato consumption, Hossain said.