Punjab government and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee to purchase potatoes directly from farmers

The Punjab Government has come to the rescue of farmers in the State by deciding to purchase potatoes at Rs 500 per quintal, and export 5000 quintals to Russia, Sri Lanka and Iran.

Published: 05th March 2017 01:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2017 01:41 AM   |  A+A-

A labourer prepares to unload sacks of potatoes from a truck at a wholesale vegetable and fruit market. (File Photo | Reuters)

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Government has come to the rescue of farmers in the State by deciding to purchase potatoes at Rs 500 per quintal, and export 5000 quintals to Russia, Sri Lanka and Iran after one farmer committed suicide, and farmers suffered a loss of Rs 1500 crore because of the potato glut. In addition to that, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) has decided to directly purchase potatoes from the farmers.

Khuswant Singh, (45), of Moosapur village in Jalandhar, committed suicide after he suffered a loss in his potato crop, and was in debt of Rs 20 lakh, including cultivating his crop on leased land. The Punjab government has also instructed the education department that schools should directly buy potatoes from farmers at Rs 5 per kg for the mid-day meal scheme in government schools across the state to boost their sales.

The meeting in this regard was held between BKU representatives and Kahan Singh Pannu, Managing Director of PAIC, in which all the details were given to farmer leaders. Corporation officials are in talks with Russia, Iran and Sri Lanka to finalise the deal soon, in a bid to resolve the crisis. Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu has agreed to the Punjab Government’s request to keep five lakh bags of potatoes in its cold storage.

Many farmers, who waited for the prices to stabilise, left their crops standing in the field. However, the new crop came in February, adding to the standing stock and a lot of unsold potatoes already kept in cold storage.

The State government has sent the case to the Election Commission of India to sanction Rs 5 crore so that it could buy the first lot of potatoes after the mode of conduct is in place.

All the Deputy Commissioners in the State have been directed to buy the crop directly from farmers at Rs 500 and send it to prison departments and schools for the mid-day meal scheme.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary of SGPC Harcharan Singh said, “we would be buying the potatoes directly from the farmers as we have told the managers of the gurdwaras and other institutions under the SGPC control to do the same. Presently our institutions are buying potatoes from the open market at Rs 8 per kg on an average. I have also discussed this matter with Punjab Agro Industries Corporation officials.’’

Unable to sell their produce, angry farmers in the Doaba region had on Wednesday dumped 500 quintals of potato on the road, causing a traffic jam on the Jalandhar-Amritsar National Highway.

The trouble began in November when farmers from Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat cancelled their orders for potato seeds from Punjab because demonetisation had greatly affected them.

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