Kolkata, Jan 9 (UNI) West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee inaugurated the first India International Potato Expo (IIPE) here today as part of the celebration of the International Potato Day.
Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh and Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai were also present at the function, besides ministers from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the largest potato producing states in the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bhattacharjee expressed concern at the below two per cent fall of the national agricultural growth and said the growth should be maintained between three and four per cent to sustain the country's GDP growth at nine to ten per cent.
''If agriculture loses the growth momentum, Indian economic growth cannot be sustained,'' he said.
The Chief Minister announced that Central Potato Research Institute would organise a campus in West Bengal to assist the efforts of the state in this sector.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jairam Ramesh said IIPE should be made a biennial feature. ''This effort of IIPE 2008 should continue to showcase to the world India's strength in Potato,'' he said adding the next expo would be organised on January nine, 2010.
Raising the issue of tariff escalation in the international market, Mr Ramesh also urged the US to reduce the import duty on value added products. He said this would be a welcome step for all the developing countries.
Mr Ramesh said that though India was the third largest producer of potato, the country's share in international trade was only 0.5 per cent and there was a need to take the figure to four to five per cent.
The IIPE 2008 was being organized to showcase the importance of potato in agricultural trade in India and also its impact on the economy, food security and employment opportunities.
At the IIPE, the draft of the national potato policy would be released by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on January eleven.
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