Kolkata, Feb 7 (PTI) To prevent banana produce of farmers from rotting and to help them market their produce and get better price, the West Bengal government has announced a new project.

Agriculture, Food Processing and Horticulture, secretary Nandini Chakraborty told a press meet on Wednesday that there are approximately 3.7 lakh banana farmers in the state and the new project would help them.

Tissue culture banana will be cultivated over an approximate area of 700 hectares in Murshidabad and Nadia districts as part of the new project at a cost of Rs 2322.869 lakh, she said.

The state government will have share of Rs 930.386 lakh in the project, the participating farmers Rs 933.583 lakh and the Keventer Agro group Rs 458.90 lakh.

Chakraborty said the two districts were chosen in the first phase of the project as Nadia and Murshidabad had reported bumper and quality banana production in recent years.

“The project will help keep consistent quality standard of banana which is perishable after four days,” the secretary said.

Asked if this could be called a venture on PPP model, Chakraborty said, “if you use the term loosely, then it might be called that.”

The state government will monitor the cultivation and all matters, she said adding for the first 11 months the government will teach the farmers about the modern ways.

“There is need for a banana value chain for back-up support for farmers and we want them not to be exploited by middle men who deprive them of the market price and also cause wastage of the produce during transportation. The new facilities will prevent that,” Trinamool Congress MLA, Mahua Mitra said at the press meet.

The Keventer Agro will buy back the produce from growers, ripen the bananas scientifically in their ripening chambers and market through their network, its chairman and managing director Mayank Jalan said.

The Keventer group will also build infrastructures like ‘pack house’ and ‘ripening chamber’ which are necessary for implementation of the project, the top official said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.