Potato crisis in Punjab: CM Badal asks agriculture minister to make plans to provide plans to provide instant relief to farmers

  • Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Apr 02, 2015 21:27 IST

With the farmer fraternity seeing huge financial loss to due to a glut like situation, the Punjab government has eventually flexed it muscles and come up with some immediate damage control measures.

Instead of seeking adequate compensation from the centre, state government is now concentrating on providing opportunities for the potato to be sold within the country.

Moreover, fearing potato crisis like in 2000 and 2011, the government has also sought suggestions from farmers to come up with ideas for the early sell of potatoes. The farmers had faced huge losses and dumped potatoes on the roads to mark their protest against poor marketing then.

The potato crisis is severe in the state this year too. Besides dip in prices in the market, there is acute shortage of space in cold storages across the state. Moreover, ban on export of potatoes in international markets, mainly in Russia and Europe, by central government has also doubled the troubles of the farmers.

Even chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has directed the agriculture department to look into 'potato crisis'.

"I have personally asked agriculture minister Tota Singh to make immediate plans to provide relief to farmers," Badal said during on his visit to Patiala on Wednesday.

As per available information, Punjab produced 22.32 lakh tonne of potatoes this season, against 21.89 lakh tonne last year. The prices of potatoes have come down to rs 200-215 per quintal from Rs 1500-1600 per quintal last year.

When contacted Tota Singh said the problem was mainly caused due to surplus production of potatoes in other states mainly Gujarat and West Bengal.

"Though both these state have planned freight subsidies for transporting the crop to southern states, but we can't implement the same model since the production takes four to five days to reach states in the South; and the threat of damage is more in that case," he said.

He added that the farmers have shown their reluctance to go with such model due to uncertainty of sale in the open market in southern states.

"I have also discussed the matter with chief minister over phone and informed him about the situation. We have also directed senior officials of the department to consult potato growers associations for immediate viable solutions," Singh added.

History frighten farmers

While the past three years have been productive for potato growers, the scars of 2000 and 2011 when potato flooded the market, are giving the farmers a scare.

In 2000, over 25,000 quintals were dumped and farmers were forced to sell their crop at Rs 1 per kg. The same happened in 2011, when Punjab produced 21,000 lakh tones of potatoes.

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