Farmers in Punjab are fetching a fairly good price for the early variety (table crop) of potato crop that hit the market recently. In fact, the price is three times the amount they have been fetching for over the last four years or so.
They are getting Rs 600 to Rs 750 per 50 kg bag for the eatable potato crop that was being sold at Rs 150 to Rs 200 per 50 kg bag for the past four years.
Selling below the rate of Rs 500 to 600 per 50 kg bag is not viable, claim farmers, as they spend on an average Rs 8 to 9 for growing per kg potato including eatable potato and for seed potato.
Farmer Gurmail Singh of Dhadda Haripur Village in Nakodar has grown eatable potato on 50 acres of land. “After a gap of four years, I have been selling my eatable potato at the rate of Rs 1200 to Rs 1500 per quintal while in the previous years the rate was Rs 300 to 400 per quintal and I had suffered huge losses,” said he, adding that even he had sold seed potato at the rate of Rs 35 to 50 per 50 kg bag last year.
“I was under huge loan and now I feel that this will be eased if the rate continues to be like this in this season,” he said.
Harminder Singh , another farmer from Malsian in Jalandhar, said that he has been growing table potato on 10 acres after harvesting paddy and was facing huge losses for the past two years.
“This year rate is good but there is no consistency in potato rate which is ruining the farmers and government should make a policy to fix a minimum rate of it,” he said, adding that here is a need to control middlemen who are making big money even while farmers get poor rates.
“We just want the reasonable rate of the crop and government does not even care for that,” said another farmer Harjinder Singh, who grows only seed potato.
During previous years, Punjab government had asked Markfed to intervene and purchase potato from the mandies to bail out farmers facing huge losses due to poor rate. But the purchased quantity was low compared to the huge production. Punjab produces around 2.5 million tonnes potato on around 95,000 hectares to one lakh hectares area mainly in the four districts — Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshar — of Doaba region and 1.6 million tonnes (66 per cent) crop is meant for the seed purpose only. Punjab is the major supplier of potato seed in India.
Potato crop is sown in the month of October in Punjab and the table potato hits the market in early December while the main seed potato crop is harvested in February month which is then stored in cold stores to supply across the country.
The yield of table crop is Punjab is 12-14 tonnes per acre while yield of seed potato is 8-10 tonnes per acre. The rate of seed potato is almost double that of table potato.