Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav assured all help to the team of potato experts from the Netherlands that arrived here on Monday to help set up ‘Dutch Potato Cluster’ in Dimple Yadav’s parliamentary constituency Kannauj.
The state government is holding a two-day training session in Kannauj where potato farmers from 11 districts landed on Monday to listen to the experts.
Addressing the session, the Chief Minister reiterated his commitment towards the setting up of the vodka manufacturing plant (also in Kannauj) in collaboration with a Russian-based liquor company, which is being projected by the government as one that will give a readymade market to the potato farmers in Kannauj.
The CM had visited The Netherlands in September earlier this year and had invited Dutch experts to visit the state and share expertise with potato farmers here.
As a result of that invitation, senior agronomist Prof Anton Haverkort of Wageningen University and Marijn Leijten, the Director of Netherlands Agro, Food and Technology Centre (NAFTAC), have agreed to provide field training to the farmers in Kannauj.
“The state government is concerned about investment in the state. Our efforts have borne fruit and these experts from Netherlands have arrived here to impart skills to our farmers,” Akhilesh told the gathering.
“There is not a single house where potato is not consumed in some form. We are also planning to set up something where potato can be utilized for drinks.”
The CM praised The Netherlands for its agricultural techniques. “They are the largest producer of potato in the world. Eighty per cent of potato they produce reaches processing plants here whereas only one per cent of our produce goes to these plants. We need to learn from them and make potato cultivation more lucrative,” he said.
Akhilesh also talked about the state being “open for collaboration in dairy and floriculture sector”, saying western European country has expertise in these areas too and asked people to recall Amitabh Bachchan-starrer film Silsila whose one of the songs was shot in the flower field of The Netherlands.
Reciprocating the gesture, NAFTAC director, Marijn Leijten, presented a model of an orange cow to the CM, expressing interest in dairy industry.
“Yield per hectare of potato in UP is half compared to The Netherlands. We need to work to increase the yield,” Leijten said. At present, The Netherlands produces 46 million tonnes while UP produces only 22.76 MT per hectare. “We want to work with you as it is a new market for us.”
Senior agronomist Prof Anton Haverkort, too, lauded the role of UP in potato cultivation which ranks first in India. “Out of every ten potato plants planted in India, 3-4 are planted in UP. We need to develop potato cultivation for prosperity of the farmers,” he said. The two Dutch experts will offer their expertise to nearly 300 selected farmers in sowing, tuber, transportation, cold storage and processing. The experts will also offer on-spot training at a model agricultural field in Kannauj.