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With 40% cold stores in Punjab flooded with old crops, potato glut likely this year too

Faced with a similar situation last year, farmers had protested by dumping their produce on roadsides, when prices dropped to Rs 1 per kg.

punjab Updated: Nov 17, 2017 09:18 IST
Jatinder Mahal
Jatinder Mahal
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
Potato Glut,Punjab potato glut,Potato crop
Potato growers have been forced to sell their crop at throwaway rates.(Representative Image)

Potato farmers in the state are headed for another season of dwindling profits because the cold storage facilities are still flooded with old crop.

Satbir Singh, deputy director of horticulture, said nearly 40% cold stores are filled with old crops at present.

With this, farmers are likely to face a glut in the market. Faced with a similar situation last year, farmers had protested by dumping their produce on roadsides, when prices dropped to Rs 1 per kg. Even the cost of storage was just Rs 3 per kg.

The last few years have witnessed a surplus production of potatoes in the state but this has not been promptly transported to other states. As a result, potato growers have been forced to sell their crop at throwaway rates.

“There will be no place for new crop and farmers will be forced to dump it on roads as the current market rates are very low,” said Jagat Prakash Singh Gill, spokesperson of Jalandhar Potato Growers Association.

He added that in absence of state government’s support in providing transportation facilities to ferry potatoes to states like Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal, where demands are very high, farmers in Punjab are facing a tough time. “The state government is not helping whereas other state governments are helping their farmers,” he said.

Production likely to dip by 15%

Meanwhile, Satbir Singh said, “Potato production is likely to decrease by 10-15% this year because farmers did not get adequate price for their produce last season.” He added that prices crashed last season due to surplus production, because of which the cold stores were also flooded.

Punjab accounts for 5% of India’s annual potato production and Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and SBS Nagar districts are the major production centres.

Satbir Singh said while West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh produce most of India’s potatoes, they procure seeds from Punjab. “In 2016, farmers from these states refrained from purchasing seeds in the backdrop of demonetisation. This also disturbed the selling circle of farmers in Punjab,” he said.

When asked about the measures taken to prevent a reoccurrence of last year’s problem, he said, “The state government had asked Markfed to purchase potato from farmers and use them in schools for mid-day meals. This year too, appropriate steps will be taken by the government to tackle the situation.”

Meanwhile, Jagat Prakash Singh Gill said, “Against a cold storage capacity of 20 lakh metric tonnes in 572 stores in the state, the production in 2016-17 was 25.19 lakh metric tonne. At present, about 10 lakh metric tones are stored in the cold stores by farmers.”

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 09:11 IST