Giving another jolt to the potato growers in the harvesting season, prices of the vegetable plummeted to a mere Rs 400 per quintal from Rs 600 within 15 days.
At the time of sowing, potato prices had increased to Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,600 per quintal resulting in farmers increasing crop acreage, but to their sheer disappointment, the prices took a downward turn as soon as the harvesting season came around the corner.
As per the information, the drop in prices has been caused to the ban on export of the vegetable in order to control inflation.
Earlier, government's export bans had not included Pakistan but the recent decision has included our neighbor as well, increasing the pressure on the prices. Pakistan is the largest market for Indian potatoes during the first half of this fiscal (April-October).
The farmers who were already facing losses to the tune of Rs 20,000 per acre due to a fall in prices from Rs 1,600 to Rs 600 per quintal, would now have to bear losses of Rs 30,000 per acre.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that farmers were forced to buy potato seeds at high rates as at that time the price of potato was at a peak.
Kuldeep Singh, a farmer said that he had paid Rs 1,700 for a 50-kg bag of potato seeds during the sowing season. He said that including expenses such as seeds, irrigation, labour, pesticides and fuel, a farmer would have spent nothing less than Rs 80,000 per acre this season.
"The prices have now dropped to just Rs 400 per quintal. If a farmer has harvested 100 quintals of potato from one acre, he will get only Rs 45,000 in the market and will face a minimum loss of Rs 30,000 per acre," said Dhot, who has cultivated potatoes on 400 acres.
Resham Singh Chandi, vice-president, potato grower association Kapurthala, blamed the government for this situation and said that if the government had not put a ban on the export of potatoes the farmers would have got good prices of their hard-work.
"If the apathetic government still fails to give attention to the issue, the price of the crop may drop further in coming days and the farmers would not be able to bear the losses then," he said.
Meanwhile, supervisor of vegetable market, Sukhdev Singh said that the fall in prices was due to the increased harvest. "It is obvious that the rates will be go down when the production of the crop increases and demand decreases," he said.
Despite repeated attempts, Dr Manohar Singh, chief agriculture officer, Kapurthala, could not be reached for comments.