BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, April 5: To keep the vegetables produced by farmers fresh and marketable for a long period, proper cold storage facility is a must. When vegetables are harvested, they are cut off from their source of water and nutrition and soon start to deteriorate. The more quickly the product is cooled, the longer it remains marketable. Although the Assam Agriculture Department has 10 cold storages in different parts of the State for the benefit of farmers, only five of these are functiol. This is dismaying, as there are long-standing demands for more government cold storages in the State.
There has been no move to repair the five cold storages lying non-functiol, for reasons best known to the Agriculture department. It just goes to show the apathy of the Agriculture department towards farmers. The five non-functiol cold storages are located at Khapara (500 MT capacity), Byrnihat (500 MT), Patgaon (200 MT), Rowta (2,000 MT) and Chenijan (under construction). The other five functiol cold storages are located at Gauripur (60 MT capacity), Hatsingimari (60 MT), Zoo Road, Guwahati (100 MT) and Singimari, Gossaigaon (500 MT).
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and former State Agriculture minister Nilomoni Sen Deka, had on several occasions earlier, made tall promises of setting up adequate number of cold storages all over the State. But they failed utterly in keeping functiol even five of the existing 10 government owned cold storages. Several allegations of corruption have been leveled at the Agriculture department lately, with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registering cases to probe senior officials regarding two Central schemes.
Surprisingly, 24 cold storages owned by private parties in the State have been functioning well so far.
Sources said that privately owned cold storages charge high rates from farmers, compared to the government owned cold storages. “So, by keeping the interests of poor farmers in mind, the Agriculture department should take all measures to make the non-functiol cold storages up and running,” sources added.