Punjab to export potatoes to save farmers from glut

February 9th, 2009 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Feb 9 (IANS) Faced with the ire of farmers after a glut of potato crop in the state, the Punjab government Monday announced that 3,000 tonnes of potatoes would be exported to Middle East countries.

The export of the potato crop will be in addition to the 200,000 tonnes of potatoes being sent to other states within the country like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

The potatoes are being sent through the Punjab government marketing agency, Markfed, the state’s Cooperation Minister Kanwaljit Singh said.

“This is being done to provide immediate relief to potato farmers in the state. Markfed officials have been to Dubai to finalise the export of potato and the traders based there have also shown keen interest in importing potatoes,” Singh said here.

Potato farmers in the state are reeling since the prices have crashed this season after a bumper crop and the state government’s inability to create enough cold storage capacity for the produce.

Punjab got a produce of nearly 1.9 million tonnes of potatoes this season whereas the state has a capacity to store only 100,000 tonnes.

Potato growers in some places dumped their produce on highways in the state to show their anger at their crop not being sold.

Singh said the Punjab government has decided to provide Rs.1,500 per tonne as freight subsidy to the growers for export to other countries while for potato to be sent to other states the freight subsidy would be of Rs.400 per tonne.

He said the freight subsidy to Punjab potato growers was higher compared to that offered by Uttar Pradesh, where it was Rs.1,000 per tonne for export and Rs.250 per tonne sent to other states.

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