Bumper potato crop nightmare for Agra farmers

December 11th, 2011 - 12:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Dec 11 (IANS) Potato cultivators in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra region are a distressed lot these days. Their hopes of hitting a goldmine with a bumper crop this season have been dashed by similar harvest in other areas across the country, resulting in a crash in prices.

“Things are so bad that farmers are now refusing to lift their stocks from warehouses, forcing the cold storage owners to dump the produce in ditches. In some places you find potatoes scattered on the roads,” said Prem Pal of Khandauli block in Agra district, which produces around 1.3 million tonnes of potatoes annually.

The Agra region produces around 30 percent of the total national yield.

“Twenty lakh packets (two million packets - one packet is 50 kg) have not been lifted,” Sudershan Singhal, president of the Cold Storage Owners Association, told IANS. “Since farmers have not been coming forward to lift their stocks and pay the rent, the cold storages are throwing away the produce in the fields or on roads.”

The old stocks have not been lifted and preparations for lifting the new crop are in full swing. “We have to therefore make arrangements for fresh stocks,” said Rajesh Goyal, another office-bearer of the association.

When the potato crop last season was put in the cold storages the ruling price then was around Rs.600 a quintal. Now it has come down to less than Rs.100 a quintal.

Most farmers in the area shifted from traditional crops like wheat, gram and barley to the less risky and profitable potato cultivation a few years ago.

Pushpendra Jain, secretary of the Aloo Utpadan Kisan Samiti, said the state government was least concerned about the plight of the cultivators. No potato processing unit had been set up and no support mechanism was there to help the farmers.

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at brij.k@ians.in)

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