West Bengal Cold Storage Association is the only active Association of Cold Storages in West Bengal. The 59th Annual General Meeting was held on 29th January at The Almond (Salt Lake), Kolkata. The AGM 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 and was attended by: Sri. Ashok Kumar Das, Special Secretary, 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 & many other eminent personalities.
On this occasion, Sri. Rajesh Kumar Bansal, President of West Bengal Cold Storage Association highlighted, “Considerable enthusiasm is observed among potato growers and around 4.6 lakh hectare land has been cultivated in current season. Despite occasional unfavourable weather condition production is expected to be almost the same like previous year. He estimated production of around 110 lakh ton potato in the current season; domestic consumption in West Bengal being 65 lakh ton, the balance stock need to be marketed outside the state. To ensure steady price and regular supply of potato in the market he requested the authorities to frame a system for release of the stored stock at a uniform rate of 12% 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.”
Govt. initiative was suggested for farmers to maintain proper grading, curing and assortment; 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. He mentioned that cold storage rent was not revised by the Govt despite the Expert Committee recommendation for revision of cold storage rent to Rs 190 & Rs 194 for South & North Bengal respectively. He apprehended that operation of cold storages in the ensuing season may be hampered as store owners are unwilling to operate their units with the present rent structure. 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:
• Duties of hirers in respect of the quality of storable potato.
• Simplification of process to be observed for disposal of potato stock left in store units after the end of storage season.
• Extension of validity of cold storage license to five years.
• Minimum volume of stock required in the cold storage chamber for running the plant.
He 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.