Government eying increase in production of potato seeds

Five cold storages to be built soon
The Ministry of Agriculture is eying to increase the production of tuber crops, especially quality potato seeds and their preservation and distribution in a bid to ensure food security and thus alleviate poverty, reports UNB.

In this connection, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) Tuesday approved a Tk 4.21 billion project, titled ‘Tuber Crops Development Project’. Of the total amount, Tk 2.69 billion will come from the government fund while Tk 1.53 billion (153 crore) from BADC’s own resources.

The project tenured from July 2010 to June 2013 will be implemented through Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI).

Under the BADC component of the project activities, five cold storages each with 2,000 tonnes capacity will be set up in Panchagarh, Lalmonirhat, Sirajganj, Tangail and Munshiganj. Besides, the capacity of two existing cold storages — one in Bogra and another in Chandpur — will be raised to 1,000 tonnes, according to Planning Ministry sources.

The project aims at producing breeder seeds of potato through tissue culture technology in a bid to reduce import dependence, extending cultivation of sweet potato and the cassava varieties invented by BARI to the Sidr affected and monga-prone areas, creating local market through developing marketing channel, collecting local and foreign germplasm to innovate high-yielding, salt- and drought-tolerant varieties, and enhancing skills of the BARI scientists.

As the annual per capita potato consumption in the country is only 40 kg, there is a huge scope for increasing potato consumption and production to reduce pressure on the cereal crops.

Per hectare production of potato is around 15 tonnes in the country, which is much lower than that in the developed and some developing countries. “It can be increased to a large extent by using high-quality seeds,” said a senior official of BADC.

Ashraful Islam, deputy director of Potato Seed Division of BADC, told the news agency that the project aimed to supply high-quality potato seeds to farmers as well as strengthen the research activities.

He said, of the countrywide total demand of the quality potato seeds, the BADC could supply only 8.0 per cent of the demand, the contracted farmers 12 per cent and the private companies 10 per cent.

“If 60 per cent of quality seeds could be supplied to the farmers, the production of potato could be increased by 40 per cent,” he said adding the countrywide demand of potato seeds is around 0.75 million tonnes.

The BADC will also produce, procure and preserve 1,596 tonnes of breeder seeds, 13,737 tonnes of foundation seeds and 51,522 tonnes of Truthfully Labeled Seed (TLS)/Certified Seed Potato.

It will also distribute 1,204 tonnes of breeder seeds, 11,197 tonnes of foundation seeds and 44,140 tonnes of TLS. Besides, the BADC will also import basic seed potato from abroad to increase production of foundation seed and will procure another 300 tonnes of seeds locally from the Tuber Crops Research Centre (TCRC).

Apart from these, the BADC will set up a Foundation Seed Potato Production Farm on 500 acres of land and impart training to some 13,320 people including technical staff, contracted farmers, private entrepreneurs and NGO workers.

Under the BARI component of the project, field machinery and research related machinery will be procured, 400 cubic metres of green house will be set up, and research equipment and vehicles will be maintained and repaired.

thefinancialexpress

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