Jalandhar potato growers’ association (JPGA) on Monday threatened to throw their crops in front of banks if the government does not waive their loans taken against the crops.
The farmers rued that they are suffering from a huge loss because of the demonetisation move.
“Due to demonetisation, we have suffered loss of two consecutive crops. There are no buyers of potatoes in any state,” said Jaswinder Singh Sangha, general secretary of the association.
“If the situation does not get rectified within a week, we will be left with no other option than to intensify our agitation against demonetisation,” he added.
The farmers also submitted memorandums in the name of the Prime Minister, finance minister and Punjab chief minister demanding a waiver of the principle amount of loans along with interest.
President of the association Raghbir Singh said, “Potato seed production is an expensive activity and the farmers in Punjab have raised massive loans from banks owing to the heavy investment required to produce quality seeds, but are suffering from heavy loss.”
The members said that despite an advance agreement with the buyers from all the potato-consuming states, none of them was able to follow the pact due to financial crunch among buyers.
Ultimately, payment of Rs 900 crore was drained, they said.
“It will be difficult for the potato growers to afford the loss of second consecutive crop in a year,” Sangha said.
“The agriculture sector doesn’t have any black money involved, still we are the ones who are hit badly,” the enraged members said.
‘Unavailability of seeds in market’
Troubled with the increasing prices and unavailability of maize, sunflower and muskmelon seeds in the market, the potato seed growers from the region under JPGA met deputy commissioner (DC) Kamal Kishor Yadav on Monday, requesting the latter to address the gross violation on the part of seed dealers.
In a memorandum submitted to DC, the potato growers complained that the seeds retailers have been indiscriminately increasing the prices every year.
They also mentioned that the suppliers have cartelised themselves to create false shortage in the market because of which, the farmers are forced to purchase seeds under pressure.
Pritpal Singh, secretary of another group of JPGA, said that despite making several representations to the government since 2014, the seed growers here still face tough challenges while purchasing seeds.
“This year, the seeds of sunflower and maize are being sold at a premium of up to 40%. These retailers do not give any receipt or invoice against the sale of seeds,” he said.
“Due to this problem, a farmer cannot seek compensation from the government, in case his crops gets damaged,” he added.
The farmers also stressed that new crop of the potato is being sold in the market at a price of ₹300 per quintal which is less than the input cost incurred. They have demanded the government to waive the market fees of new crop until the market rate of the potato gets stabilised and also provide freight subsidy for the potatoes that are being exported.