Potato bumper harvest turns nightmare for Odisha farmers

There are no takers for local produce when more than 70 pc harvest already done
For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)
For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: A Bumper harvest of potato this year has turned into a nightmare for the farmers who are struggling even to recover the input cost as the farm gate price of the vegetable is depressingly low. With wholesale price of potatoes at Rs 10 per kg in major markets of the state, there are no takers for the local produce at a time when more than 70 per cent of the crop has already been harvested. Traders are offering to buy the vegetable from potato growers at Rs 5 a kg as the market rate has remained low compared to previous years.

“We are expecting that the rabi potato production of the state may touch six lakh tonne with an average yield of about 20 tonne per hectare. A clear picture of production and productivity will emerge after potato harvesting is over,” sources in the horticulture directorate told TNIE.

Price of potatoes is not picking up due to bumper harvests across the country mostly in neighbouring West Bengal, a major supplier of vegetables to the state. With no institutional mechanism for buyback from the farmers with a remunerative minimum support price, the potato growers are at the mercy of the market dynamics. With no cold storage facilities or organised potato mandi, the farmers are left with little choice but to sell their produce at whatever price is available in local markets, the sources maintained.

General secretary of Aiginia vegetable merchant association, Shakti Shankar Mishra said he is not in position to tell the farm gate price of the potato produced in the state as the vegetable is yet to arrive at the mandi. He said harvesting is still underway and it will take a couple of days for the arrival of locally produced potato.

As per the area expansion programme through cluster approach, the horticulture directorate has increased the tuber cultivation from 27,155 hectare in 2021-22 to 33,000 hectare in 2022-23 with an anticipated production of 7.26 lakh tonne of potato. The government had also provided quality seeds of 50,000 quintal to farmers during this kharif season.Under the area expansion programme, the state government has made a plan to scale up potato production to over 13 lakh tonne by 2025-25.

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