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Tobacco crop tips potato as farmers play safe

Small and marginal farmers in the country’s famous potato belt in the Farrukhabad region are creating history, reports Santosh Chowdhury.

lucknow Updated: Apr 15, 2007 05:58 IST

Small and marginal farmers in the country’s famous potato belt in the Farrukhabad region are creating history.

No more crops of potato rotting near farms in Kamalganj, Fathegarh or Gursaraiganj on way to Farrukhabad township to remind of the time when Uttar Pradesh faced a potato glut in 2005-06 and 2006-07 and when farmers were begging middlemen to take their crop for as low as Rs 10 a quintal.

In the beginning months of 2007-08, tobbaco crops suddenly appeared in farmlands that were earlier dedicated to potato cultivation near Kamalganj—the traditional tobacco-growing belt within Farrukhabad region. It has not come as any surprise to cold storage owners close to 4.50 lakh tonnes of potato this season.

“The problem of overproduction of potato in the past two years forced small and marginal farmers to grow cash crops like tobacco in the Farrukhabad belt. There is nothing unusual about it as farm economics compel farmers to sow crops that make the biggest profits,” president of the Cold Storage Association of Uttar Pradesh Mahendra Swarup told Hindustan Times.
He said it was difficult to talk about new acreage of the tobacco cultivation in the Farrukhabad region this season since the data of production would be far too scattered to arrive at definite figures.

“If potato starts looking good again next season, farmers would quit tobacco and switch back to potato. That is how it works,” said Swarup. Uttar Pradesh is expecting 8 lakh metric tonnes of potato to be cultivated this season which is again a record despite the fact that last year’s production exceeded 10 lakh metric tonnes, informed a merchant in Farrukhabad.

“Farmers in Farrukhabad region are known for their expertise in potato cultivation. If some farmers switch to growing tobacco for a while, it’s just a measure to avoid repetition of losses and problems caused by overproduction in the last two years. About 70 per cent of potato growers in the Farrukhabad region are small and marginal farmers with average land holding not beyond two acres,” he added.

First Published: Apr 15, 2007 05:57 IST