Punjab pushing for potato exports to EU
THE Punjab State Co-Operative Supply and Marketing Federation Ltd (Markfed) is working for the removal of potato from the negative list of EU approved import list. More than 50 progressive farmers from the state were considering exporting 10,000 tonnes of 'yellow flesh' ware potatoes to the EU market this season after getting the Eurep-GAP certification. The potato has been on the negative list of the EU due to concern of the crop being infected with ring rot and brown rot disease. “The directorate of plant protection, quarantine and storage, has been sent the sanitary and phytosanitary quarantine report prepared by Punjab Agriculture University on the establishment of pestfree area for brown rot to facilitate potato export to the EU. We expect the Centre to notify the report, which will be sent to Brussels (EU headquarters). We are optimistic about getting the clearance and are following the issue on every day,” said Markfed MD GS Grewal. Across the districts of Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Bathinda, farmers have sown the new breeder seed of Kufri Surya provided by the Central Potato Research Institute (under the ICAR) and also the existing varieties of Kufri Pushkar to cater to the EU market in the season from January to April. The EU market prefers these “yellow flesh” varieties, according to industry analysts. “It is a window for progressive farmers in the state, who have invested Rs 12,000 annually to be trained in good agriculture practice and the certification. We still have to work out the cost effectiveness and are going to demand freight subsidy from the government,” said Sardar Raghubir Singh, president, Jalandhar Potato Growers’ Association. Exporting from the landlocked state will also lead to an increase in transportation cost by Rs 10 per kg. Non –tariff barriers by countries like Holland to protect their interest could also hinder the export according to traders. For now, however, farmers seem unperturbed by these obstacles