58th AGM Organized by West Bengal Cold Storage Association

West Bengal Cold Storage Association (WBCSA), an active Association of Cold Storages in West Bengal organized its 58th Annual General Meeting in Kolkata on 11th February.

This Annual General meeting was inaugurated by the Chief Guest – Sri. Becharam Manna, Hon’ble MIC Department of Agricultural Marketing Govt of WB; Dr. Pradip Kumar Mazumdar, Hon’ble MIC Department of Panchayat & Rural Development, Govt of WB; Dr. A Subbiah, Principal Secretary Department of Agriculture Marketing Govt of WB; Sri. Kanailal Hansda, Joint Director of Agricultural Marketing Govt of WB: Sri. Rajesh Kumar Bansal, President of West Bengal Cold Storage Association; Sri. Sunil Kumar Rana, Vice President of West Bengal Cold Storage Association; Sri Patit Paban De, Past President of WBCSA.

In his speech, Sri. Becharam Manna, Hon’ble MIC Department of Agricultural Marketing Govt of WB, advised cold storage owners to go for solar energy to cut their cost on electricity bill. He also advised them to consider farmers’ interest while doing business.

On this occasion, Sri. Rajesh Kumar Bansal, President of WBCSA highlighted, “The area under cultivation of potato in the current season is on the rise and the cold storage units will continue to play a pivotal role in marketing the produce. Sluggish release of preserved stock resulted in disproportionate accumulation as 60% of the preserved stock remained in the cold storages during Sep-Oct 2022 and the market price crashed heavily since the Puja festivals. Situation became so grave that despite extension of storage period beyond 30th November more than 20% stock remained undelivered after 31st December 22. He estimated production of around 115 lakh ton potato in the current season; domestic consumption in West Bengal being 65 lakh ton the balance stock needed to be marketed outside the state. To ensure balanced market condition and regular recovery of refinance loans, he requested the authorities to frame a system for release of the stored stock at an uniform rate of 12% in each month during the unloading period. He recommended collection and analysis of pan India comprehensive data on cultivation, harvesting, storage & marketing for formulation of necessary action plan and monitoring the stock situation on a real time basis.”

As per WBCSA press brief, Govt. initiative was suggested for farmers to maintain proper grading, curing and assortment & packing in quality Leyno bags of weight 55 grams (minimum) for storable potato; standardization on the above was also suggested. Since extension of storage period beyond November has become common experience for almost every year it was requested by him that the quantum of additional rent for extended storage period need to be included in the notification for periodical rent Revision. In view of the periodical rise in input cost and cost of capital for cold storages, demand was placed for raising cold storage rent at par with rent in other potato producing states where current rate is Rs.230/- to Rs.270/- per quintal. Further, it was suggested that cold storage rent calculation should be based on 85% storage capacity instead of 100% storage capacity as utilization of 100% capacity is rarely experienced.

It was suggested that discussions on review of Cold Storage Act 1966 should include: 1. Duties of hirers in respect of the quality of storable potatoes.

2. Simplification of process to be observed for disposal of potato stock left in store units after the end of storage season.

3. Extension of validity of cold storage license to five years. 4. Minimum volume of stock required in the cold storage chamber for running the plant.

He insisted that current storage capacity offered by the store units in West Bengal is sufficient for preservation of potato produced in the state and in view of reduction in demand for produce of West Bengal in states like Jharkhand & Bihar, available storage capacity of the state needs to be restricted to the current level for at least five years. He also laid special emphasis on industry-friendly business environment in the state and practice of simplified Rules & Regulations, Time-bound actions, Fair & logical dealing of issues concerning conduct of business.

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