Jung Bahadur Sangha, a potato grower of Jalandhar district, feels let down by the government. Since 2010, the 53-year-old farmer has not been able to recover the cost of cultivating potatoes on 5,000 acres of land. The reason: a glut production and no space in cold storages across Punjab.
“In 2010, I recovered only 80% of the cost of production and in 2011 I managed to get back only 50% in spite of a bumper crop,” a distraught Sangha told HT. “There are 6,000 tonnes of crop in my cold storage alone.”
Potato is grown on nearly 80,000 hectares in Punjab, primarily in the Doaba belt — area between Sutlej and Beas rivers that comprises of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur districts.
With a bumper harvest this season as well, prices of potatoes have hit an all-time low of R1 per kg. Farmers say that due to increased farming input costs, growing potato costs them at least Rs 5 per kg.
Farmers also feel the government’s freight subsidy of 50 paise per kg for transportation within the country and Rs 1.50 for export is “too meagre”.
“Fresh crop is ready for arrival and the government has left us in the lurch with no solution to clear up the piled stock. I am sending my crop to Guwahati, but I cant even recover the cost of freight,” Sangha said.
Sangha has urged the Central Potato Board to protect the interests of potato farmers by encouraging versatile use of the tuber crop.