Kendrapara potato farmers left in lurch
Despite a bumper harvest this year, decrease in demand and price has left the potato farmers of the district worried.
KENDRAPARA: Despite a bumper harvest this year, decrease in demand and price has left the potato farmers of the district worried.
Around 30,000 potato farmers of the district are staring at uncertainty as the price of the tuber has come down to Rs 5 per kg from Rs 30 per kg two months back. Ashok Behera of Iswarpur village is worried that he would not be able to cover the input cost if the price remains unchanged.
Abani Swain of Bahakandia village said he had availed a loan of Rs 1 lakh for growing potato on his four acre of land and has sustained a loss of around Rs 40,000.
Absence of cold-storage and food processing units in the district have only made matters worse for the farmers, whose overall input cost including fertiliser and irrigation was much higher this year. Left with little option, several farmers of the district are resorting to distress sale of the tuber.
“The two primary reasons for this are lack of market linkage and unavailability of cold storages,” said Sarafat Ali, a vegetable seller of Kendrapara town, adding he is procuring potato for Rs 5 per kg from the farmers and selling it for Rs 7 per kg.
In a bid to make Odisha self-sufficient in potato cultivation, the State government had launched the State Potato Mission in 2015-16 for production, storage and distribution of the tuber.
The scheme was implemented through the Directorate of Horticulture under Agriculture Department. Under the scheme, the department was supposed to extend incentive to farmers for undertaking large-scale cultivation of potatoes in clusters.
This apart, the farmers were to be given incentive for production of seed potatoes and support for setting up of adequate number of cold storages.
However in 2019, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report stated that the State government failed to utilise a single penny of the Rs 20 crore sanctioned in 2017-18 for promotion of Potato Mission.
“Due to the apathy of the State government towards the mission, a large number of farmers are in deep trouble,” alleged farmers’ leader and president of Krusaka Sabha, Umesh Chandra Singh.
Assistant director of Horticulture department, Kanda Jena said the district needs more cold storages to ensure the farmers do not resort to distress sale of the tuber.