Potato dream turns sour in Bargarh

Bargarh: The ‘Potato Mission’—a much hyped-up programme launched by the state government in 2014 to overcome tuber scarcity in the state was derailed this year again in the absence of a proper procurement policy in place.

At present, farmers have no option but to resort to distress sale of potatoes to traders. The tuber now sells at Rs 3 to 4 per kg, a report said.
The government had launched the mission in the wake of acute shortage of potatoes in the state in previous years. Farmers were encouraged to raise the crop and given good quality seeds to boost the harvest. Though the district recorded bumper harvest last year, farmers didn’t get the benefit in the absence of a proper procurement system. Aggrieved, they dumped tonnes of potatoes at the collectorate following which several procurement centres were opened across the district and Markfed bought the produce.

However, no such arrangement has been made this year forcing farmers to sell their crop at throw away prices.
Though the farmers are lured into taking up potato cultivation, the authorities failed to take measures to collect their harvest in time –making the mission a failure, farmers said.
Many farmers have made up their mind not to go for potato farming next year, it was learnt.

According to reports, the district recorded bumper harvest this season thanks to favourable weather condition. However, the crop is rotting in the absence of cold storage facility and lack of procurement system in the district. Left with no option, the farmers sell potatoes at prices as low as Rs 3/Rs 4 a kg to traders. However, the tuber vegetable cost Rs 10 a kg to consumers in retail markets.
While the department has no control over the price difference, farmers end up getting exploited in the hands of unscrupulous traders, many potato growers alleged.

“I am selling potato at Rs 2 to 3 a kg. With such prices I cannot even recover what I spent on the cultivation,” Dasia Bhoi of Tilapali on the outskirt of the town said.
Many other farmers including women cultivators Manas Bhue and Anjana Biswal of Jamurda village expressed similar views on the issue.
When contacted, assistant director of horticulture department Sushil Kumar Seth said he was aware of the bumper harvest. The farmers were asked to keep their surplus yield in two private cold stores near, he added.

“I came to know that the government is planning to procure potato from the farmers,” Seth further informed.  PNN

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