To check distress sale, UP to purchase 2 lakh metric tonnes potatoes | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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To check distress sale, UP to purchase 2 lakh metric tonnes potatoes

In a bid to protect potato farmers from making distress sale, the Yogi government will procure 2 lakh metric tonnes of potatoes directly from them under the market intervention scheme.

lucknow Updated: Mar 05, 2018 15:02 IST
K Sandeep Kumar
Farmers harvesting potatoes from their field in Jhunsi at Allahabad.
Farmers harvesting potatoes from their field in Jhunsi at Allahabad. (Anil Kumar Maurya/HT Photo)

In a bid to protect potato farmers from making distress sale, the Yogi government will procure 2 lakh metric tonnes of potatoes directly from them under the market intervention scheme (MIS) in the state this time.

The procurement will be made at a rate of Rs 5,490 per metric tonne besides an overhead charge of Rs 1,373 per metric tonne, says a recently issued government order.

“The aim of the MIS scheme is to protect farmers from making distressed sales during peak season when prices fall to very low levels as this provides remunerative prices to farmers in case of glut in production and fall in prices. This is being implemented on request of the state government willing to share the loss with the central government on a 50-50 basis,” the order says.

“In a missive sent to all district magistrates as well as director, horticulture and food processing department on March 01, UP Agriculture Production Commissioner Raj Pratap Singh has conveyed the state government’s decision in this regard following a letter from the Centre, also dated March 01, specifying the norms,” said a senior official requesting anonymity in view of the model code in place for Phulpur bypolls.

HT is in possession of a copy of the order that comes with a detailed table of agency entrusted the task of opening purchase centres in districts and the set target for them.

“The letter adds that overhead charges would cover expenses like transport, loading, unloading, gunny bag and other packing material, Mandi tax, purchase tax and godown charges etc. The purchases would be through agencies like UP Agro, Uttar Pradesh Cooperative Federation Limited, Uttar Pradesh Consumer Cooperative Society, National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF), UP State Horticultural Co-operative Marketing Federation (HOFED) etc,” the official added.

As per the plan, Rs 2 crore each would be made available to the UP Agro, the PCF etc by the State Agricultural Produce Markets Board, UP, as an interest free loan for four months on their demands while the Uttar Pradesh Consumer Cooperative Society and NCCF would arrange for the money themselves, the letter adds.

These agencies would open procurement or purchase centres in different districts in consultation with the respective DMs with their numbers and targets being fixed as per local needs and circumstances. The purchase of potatoes would be made between March 2 and March 31, which, however, could be increased with the permission of the central government.

The order specifies that while one purchase centre should become functional in every district from March 1 itself, by March 6 at least one such purchase centre should start functioning in every tehsil of a district.

The procurement agencies should furnish a daily progress report to horticulture and food processing department through e-mail while the DM would ensure that a team of senior officials undertakes surprise inspection of the purchase centres, the missive says.

Uttar Pradesh is the largest potato producing state of the country accounting for about 35% of the country’s total output. As per some estimates, a whopping over 23 lakh farmers grow potatoes in the state. With very limited capacity to store the produce— just 1,708 cold storages—every harvest produces the challenge for the government to ensure proper returns to the farmers at a time when large number of its cold storages are already full with last season’s harvest.

In only its second cabinet meeting in April 2017, for the first time ever, the Yogi government had decided to fix minimum support price for potato to give fillip to potato growers who had been forced to sell their produce on throwaway prices in the past.

Last year, the government had decided to purchase 1 lakh metric tonnes of potatoes from farmers at Rs 4,870 per tonne to arrest the sharp fall in prices besides an extra Rs 1,217.60 per tonne or actual whichever is less for overhead expenses.