28 February, 2023 – Chandigarh : Jagat Singh, a potato grower in Thamanwal village near Phillaur, is a worried man these days. He has harvested almost two-thirds of his potato crop cultivated on 300 acres but the price he is fetching in the market is just 40 per cent of the price he fetched in the corresponding period last year.
“I had never anticipated that the prices would fall so low. The rate of table potato is down from Rs 10 per kg last year to just Rs 4 per kg now. There are no buyers in the market for our produce, forcing us to sell at whatever rates we are offered,” he rued.
Even the cost of production is more than the prices fetched by the potato growers now. Farmers estimate that the cost of production works out to be Rs 9 per kg and they are fetching only 50 per cent of their cost. This year the area under potato cultivation is 1.14 lakh hectares, up from 1.10 lakh hectare last year, which had led to a bumper crop.
The reason for the sharp fall in prices is the over production of the crop and the unsold stocks of potato, preserved in cold storages across the state from the last season. “This year, there has been a bumper crop in all potato-growing states – West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. As a result, there is little demand for the potato crop. I hope to see the demand increase by mid-March, which will give a fillip to the prices,” says Gurraj Singh Nijjar, a potato grower from Jaganpur village near Jalandhar.
It is learnt that the losses for the potato seed growers are even higher than those growing table potatoes. “Last year, we were getting up to Rs 18-20 per kg as the rate for seed potato. This year, the price has crashed by over 50 per cent. Potato seed traders are not buying any produce this year, saying that 40 lakh bags are lying unsold in cold storage from the previous harvesting season,” rued Sukhjit Singh Bhatti, a potato seed grower.
Punjab supplies seed potato to the entire country. About 70 per cent of the potato grown in the state is seed potato, while 30 per cent is used as table potato.
Courtesy : The Tribune