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Price crash: Punjab to export potato to Russia and Middle East

Price crash: Punjab Agro Industries Corporation to be assisting agency; glut in production due to accumulated surplus crops of past seasons had farmers worried

punjab Updated: Jan 20, 2018 09:34 IST
Parampreet Singh Narula
Parampreet Singh Narula
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
Price crash,Punjab,export potato
Against a production cost of around Rs 5 per kg, potato is selling at Rs 2 per kg in the wholesale market. Doaba has 93% of the state’s sown area of the crop. (HT File )

Four months after farmers dumped potatoes on road in Mohali and other parts of the state, seeking remunerative price for the produce, the Punjab government has allowed the staple food’s export to Russia and the Middle East. The past few years have witnessed surplus production of potatoes in the state. This, however, has not been adequately transported to other states.

This glut in production and no buyers due to demonetisation over the past two seaons had led to a crash in prices. Against a production cost of around Rs 5per kg, potato is selling at Rs 2 per kg in the wholesale market.

The price crash is a cyclical occurence in the state, but demonetisation had aggaravated the crisis. Doaba has 93% of the state’s sown area of the crop at 80,000 hectares of 86,000. In a series of reports, HT had highlighted the plight of potato farmers who had been facing heavy losses.

What caused the crisis
  • Production cost: Rs 5/kg
  • Wholesale selling price: Rs 2/kg
  • Acreage in Punjab 86,000 hectare
  • Acreage in Doaba region 80,000 hectare (93%)
  • Production per hectare 200 quintal

“If the government fails to intervene to help potato growers, Doaba farmers will be the worst-hit,” Jalandhar Potato Growers Association (JPGA) general secretary Jaswinder Singh Sangha had recently said.

After the decision, he said, “We hope for export to Europe and the Americas to start soon as well.” The decision to export the crop was taken during a meeting of members of the Jalandhar Potato Growers Association (JPGA) with financial commissioner, development, Vishwajeet Khanna earlier this week.

Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) will be the assisting agency. Farmers will hand over their produce to the agency, which will bear the transport cost in exporting the produce. The consignments will also be insured.

Markfed to also purchase crop

Markfed has also been directed to purchase potatoes and supply it to government schools for use in mid-day meals.

The farmers’ demand of subsidy of Rs 2 per kg on freight is under consideration, government sources said.

“Farmers usually export the crop through private commission agents. They sought the government’s assistance after they faced problems in recovery of payments from them. When we receive the payment, the assured amount will be distributed between the producers and the government agency,” Khanna said.

He added that they were also exploring ways to export the crop to Europe and the Americas and expand the state’s reach and fulfil potential. “To export there, we have to match their standards in cleanliness and packaging of the produce,” he said.

Markfed additional managing director BM Sharma said, “We have asked schools to give us their demand for potatoes and will supply accordingly for the mid-day meal.”

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 09:34 IST