Growers jittery as potato prices fall; blame Haryana govt for no MSP

Farmers accuse govt of not coming up with MSP for vegetables; say middlemen minting money.

punjab Updated: Dec 14, 2017 11:42 IST
Neeraj Mohan
Neeraj Mohan
Hindustan Times, Karnal
Kurukshetra,potato,potato prices
A man at the Pipli potato market at Kurukshetra district on Wednesday.(HT Photo)

Potato growers in Kurukshetra and its adjoining districts are facing a tough time with a fall in the commodity prices right in the beginning of the harvesting season.

This is for the third consecutive years that the potato farmers are forced to sell their produce below ₹5 per kg in the open market at Kurukshetra’s Pipli , considered the potato hub of the state.

Last year, when the farmers did not get reasonable prices for potato, they stored their produce in cold stores thinking they may get a better deal later on.

But most of the farmers did not take their produce back and the cold store owners had to sell their potato at ₹2 per kg to make up for storage charges.

“This year, the farmers are facing twofold problem as the prices have fallen to ₹5 per kg and the per acre production has gone down by about 20-30 per cent,” said Rajinder Singh, a farmer from Kurukshetra.

Also, the bad weather for the past two days has also added to their woes as rain has not only delayed the harvesting but has also increased labour charges. The farmers are paying ₹5,000 per acre for harvesting potato to empty their fields for wheat.

“I earned only ₹5,000 after selling the three-acre produce at ₹62,000. Many farmers could not earn the production cost,” said Rajesh Kamboj, a farmer from Yamunanagar district.

The farmers blame the government for poor pricing policy for vegetables. They said potato is being sold at ₹10-12 per kg in the market but they have to sell it at ₹5 per kg for lack of market and buyers.

“There is only one potato mandi (market) in the entire state (in Kurukshetra) and the traders make the most of the farmers’ helplessness. Even the farmers from neighbouring Punjab also sell their produce in this market,” said Ram Kumar, a farmer, demanding the government should allow trading of this commodity in other districts also.

The traders said they cannot fix the prices which depend on demand.

“The production of potato has increased manifold in Kurukshetra, Ambala and Yamunanagar districts in the past few years and this is the only reason behind the fall in prices,” Vinod Kumar, a trader at the Pipli grain market, said.

The acreage under potato has declined to nearly 9,000 hectares from the last year’s 12,000 hectares in Kurukshetra and adjoining districts. State agriculture department deputy director Karam Chand said prices have fallen despite fall in acreage.

The state government had earlier announced to fix the minimum support price (MSP) for all vegetables, but officials said the matter was still under consideration and the it may take few more years to become a reality.

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 11:38 IST