Bumper crop of potato has again brought worries for farmers for the second consecutive year as they are fetching as low a price as Rs. 4 per kg, which doesn't even make for the cost of production. In 2011, farmers had dumped potatoes on roads after lack of demand for the produce.
Until ten days back, the rate of potato in wholesale market was Rs. 900 per quintal, which has come down to Rs. 205 per quintal.
"If the situation continues for some more days, farmers would rather prefer throwing the produce on roads, like they did last year," said one of the potato farmers Jasdeep Singh. He said that farmers could avail better returns by dispatching the crop to other states, where there was at least 20% decline in the production, but lack of availability of railway rakes was coming in the way in this regard.
"The railways assured us to make at least two rakes available daily, but for the last four days only one rake has been provided," he added.
It is pertinent that Punjab, especially Doaba region, is the major supplier of potato seeds as well as table crop in the entire country. This season, potato was cultivated on 85,000 acres of land in Doaba region and due to conducive weather, there was bumper crop.
Another potato grower Satnam Singh rued that on Thursday the rate of potato was Rs. 9 per kg, which on Friday came down to just Rs. 4 per kg. "We had written to the railways minister Pawan Bansal, but nothing needful was done so far to provide adequate number of rakes," he added.
Meanwhile, general secretary of Jalandhar Potato Growers Association (JPGA) Jaswinder Singh Sangha accused the traders of creating artificial glut for lowering the rate of potato in local mandis, and delaying the supply to the states of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Assam, where a kilo of potato fetched Rs. 15.
"Railways had provided adequate rakes, but traders were deliberately not dispatching the produce the same day they reach the market, thereby creating glut-like situation," Sangha alleged.
"This season the potato has better prospects despite a bumper crop, as there is huge demand for tuber in other states," he claimed.