Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to abandon the plan to shut down the Central Potato Research Station (CPRS) at Muthorai in the Nilgiris.
He wrote Modi after media reports said the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) had taken a decision to shut down the CPRS.
“The closure of the CPRS at Udhagamandalam will have a detrimental impact on the interest of the potato farmers of this State and entire South India. Potatoes are mainly grown in hilly districts of Dindigul, the Nilgiris, Krishnagiri and Erode districts of Tamil Nadu, covering nearly 5,500 hectares,” the Chief Minister said in his letter.
The CPRS, founded in 1957, has been serving potato farmers for the past 70 years in coordination with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU).
“This is the only station in the whole of South India researching potato cyst nematode and potato early blight which are major diseases affecting potato cultivation and help the farmers to keep these maladies in check and grow the crop profitably,” he said.
The CPRS is one of the two Institutes where potato farmers get disease-free seeds. If the research station is closed, farmers in South India would have to depend on the Potato Research Station in Jalandhar, Punjab, for disease-free planting materials, which in turn will increase the cost of cultivation. Moreover, the varieties of North India are not suitable for the southern hills, he pointed out.
He requested the Prime Minister to direct the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and the ICAR not to close the CPRS in the interest of potato farmers in the State.