Teams sent to 3 districts for early intervention to prevent late blight attack

Kolkata, Jan 21 (PTI) The West Bengal government has sent teams to three districts as part of the state's early intervention programme after receiving reports of late blight symptoms in potato crop, government officials said on Tuesday.

The disease, if not checked, can spread quickly and affect the yield.

Late blight had hit potato cultivators of the state in 2014.

Senior officials said, the government has sent teams to Bankura, West Midnapore and Burdwan districts for taking preventive measures and keeping a close watch on the situation.

'The state government is concerned about climate change. Due to a sudden rise in temperature, there are reports of late blight symptoms in potato crop. We have sent expert teams to the three districts for early intervention,' state agriculture department chief advisor Pradip Kr Mazumdar said.

As a result of this disease, water soaked spots appear on margins of the leaves which later turn into black patches with whitish fungus growth visible on lower surface in the morning hours.

In the current crop season, potato production is expected to be 105 lakh tonnes even as cultivation area is down by 2-3 per cent.

To keep potato prices reasonable, the government was actively working on minimising middlemen in the entire supply chain, state Agriculture Marketing minister Tapan Dasgupta said at the West Bengal Cold Storage Association AGM.

He said, the government was expanding the reach of their retail outlets 'Sufala' to help direct government market intervention.

'We are offering potato at Rs 17 per kg which is retailing at Rs 25 per kg and distributing onions at Rs 59 a kg when it had crossed Rs 150 a kg,' Dasgupta said.

From 2021, the state government will be able to begin commercial distribution of diesase-free potato seeds and will increase production of the crop after receiving feedback.