Kolkata, Sep 15 (UNI) The West Bengal government today signed an MoU with Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA) for setting up two processing cum auction centres for pineapples and potatoes in Siliguri and Hooghly respectively.
The MoU(Memorandum of Understanding) was signed by the APEDA and Department of Food Processing Industries and Horticulture in presence of Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Jairam Ramesh, state Commerce and Industries Nirupam Sen and state Finance Minister Asim Das Gupta.
The MoU envisages the setting up of post harvest handling cum auction centres for pineapple at Bidhannagar in Siliguri and an integrated potato development and export facilitation centre in Hooghly at a cost of Rs 16 crore.
The proposed infrastructure to cost nearly Rs 10 crore with 75 per cent funding by APEDA and the rest from state budget at Bidhanagar will play a dual role as a post harvest management facility like export and also as auction centre for pineapple. The installed capacity around 62,500 tonnes per annum of pineapple on two shifts for 240 days.
An Export Zone has been set up in North Bengal's four districts - Jalpaiguri, Coochbehar, Darjeeling and North Dinajpur, which have good annual produce of pineapples in the state.
The Integrated Potato Development and Export Facilitation Centre at Hooghly with an estimated cost of Rs six crore and 75 per cent financed by the APEDA enviaged multipronged aspects like produciton of potato, the main cash crop of Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan and West Midnapore, export, and other necessary aspects.
West Bengal produces the country's larget quantity of potato and pineapple. The state produces some eight million kgs of potato, of them five million kgs are used for domestic purpose and two million kgs are exported every year in other state. Now the state is planning to export processed potato to overseas after completion of this new project.