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Cabbage, poultry on Nippon route

After successfully pushing Bengal’s flowers into the international market, the Horticulture Development Corporation (HDC) is eyeing the Japanese mart to book space for cabbages, ladies finger and processed chicken from Bengal.

Kenji Matshushita, president of Cabletek Japan Company Limited, is in town as part of a five-member Japanese team for a tie-up to pave the path between the two markets. The Japanese team has held preliminary discussions with HDC officials and CPM MLA Sudhanshu Sil, who is also chairman of Mullickghat Phoolbazar Parichalan Samity.

Sil is slated to meet Sailen Sarkar, minister for horticulture and food processing, to carry the project forward.

“The Japanese prefer a tie-up with the government and private firms to ensure a steady import of processed chicken to the tune of 200 tonnes per month and unlimited quantity of cabbage to Japan,” explained Sil. The Japanese have also offered buy-back guarantee to the production farms here.

According to Subrata Bose, deputy manager, HDC, the Japanese have already been running a rose farm in Gurgaon as a joint venture with buy-back guarantee. The HDC now owns 11 farms where horticultural products like seeds, flowers, vegetable and medicinal herbs are being grown for commercial purposes.

The state government has recently handed over plots of land to the HDC in Haringhata and Darjeeling. The animal husbandry department has handed over a 100-bigha plot of land at Haringhata. And under the aegis of MP Somnath Chatterjee, floriculture has started on a 50-bigha farm in Birbhum.

On the flower front, after successfully wooing with quality stuff, the HDC and the Phoolbazar Parichalan Samity are now struggling to meet the growing demand for tuberoses (rajanigandha).

“We are exporting one lakh stems of rajanigandha,” said Bose, adding that while the tuberose from Africa is graded A in Holland, the Bengal variety is graded A-1 for its quality and fragrance.

“They are paying Rs 36 per stem of rajanigandha from Bengal, almost double the price of the African rajanigandha,” said Bose.

The Samity would earlier send its floral consignment to Europe once a week by KLM, but with demand shooting up, an additional consignment is being despatched by Lufthansa every week. “We are expecting a profit of no less than Rs 50 lakh by March 2004,” said Sil.

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