There is something to cheer about for the Punjab farmers, as after consistent failures of various crops due to different reasons in the last few seasons, the potato growers of Doaba region are getting good price for the different varieties of their crop, which are attracting good number of buyers this season.
Last year, the rates that touched a low of Rs 1-2 per kg due to the glut in the market, have reached Rs 9-11 per kg for different varieties this season, thus bringing smile on the faces of the growers who had taken heavy loans to run their agricultural activities.
As per the information, the loss of potato crop in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat -- the major potato growing states -- has become Punjab’s gain as in these states, as per survey of Jalandhar Potato Growers’ Association (JPGA), the yield has come down by nearly 21%.
“Because of different weather factors, the crop in those states has resulted in low yield. The quality of potatoes in those areas has also come down. All these factors are favouring us, as the quality of our crop this season has been up to the mark. Buyers are now preferring Punjab potatoes,” said JPGA general secretary Jaswinder Singh Sangha.
Kuldeep Singh Dhat, a leading potato grower from Kapurthala, said though the yield of the crop this season in the region has come down by nearly 15-20 %, it won’t harm the growers because of the rates available in the market.
“Our reports taken from other potato growing states suggest that while in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, the crop has faced complete damage due to dry conditions, in Uttar Pradesh, the fungal attack has caused huge loss to the crop,” said Dhat, who cultivated potatoes in more than 200 acres.
Another grower, Yujgraj Singh, claimed that the yield of ‘Jyoti’ variety -- the most commonly used potato in daily life -- has witnessed lesser yield as compared to the other varieties. “In many cases, the yield per acre of Jyoti variety has come down by 30%,” he said.
Reports of profit for farmers have also come as a big relief for the Punjab government, as since the last many seasons, the government had been facing the ire of the farmers because of the failure of the crop. Last year, the growers faced heavy losses, as due to glut of the crop across the nation, farmers were compelled to sell the crop on minimum price.
According to JS Minhas, a potato expert at Central Potato Research Institute, Badshahpur in Jalandhar district, the department has received reports about good response from the market, which was good for the farmers. “Though many farmers are claiming that their yield has come down this season, we have not made in any assessment in this regard till now. However, in our farm, the yield of various varieties of potato has not come down,” he said.
Doaba region also caters as the major supplier of potato seed to West Bengal, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka and Chattisgarh. Meanwhile, this year, the Punjab government has increased 2 % area under potato cultivation.