Phulbani: Potato farmers in Kandhamal district are staring at a bleak future after monsoonal tuber crop promoted by the horticulture department resulted in a loss, a report said Saturday.
The farmers took up the cultivation after the horticulture department assured them of a good harvest and provided them with potato seeds. The growth of the potato plants was good but the yield was disappointing.
This is not an isolated incident and can be seen in Rujangi, Pitabari, Bandhasahi villages of the district. Farmers started harvesting the crop but were left disappointed after they found hardly one or two potatoes in the roots.
The price of potato is rising day by day and they were expecting a handsome income from the cultivation. However, their hopes were shattered. Things are in such a bad state that they are even finding it difficult to pay wages to labourers.
Farmers have blamed the horticulture department and low quality seeds supplied to them by the horticulture department for their loss. Farmers said the department asked them to take up cultivation of tuber in this monsoon, saying they could reap a good harvest.
The aim was to prevent farmers from losing of livelihood due to distress sale and meeting the potato requirement in the district. The cultivation was carried out by farmers on 250 acres in all 12 blocks of the district during this monsoon.
As many as 1,744 farmers were supplied with 3,750 quintals of seeds. Each farmer was given three packets of seeds amounting to Rs 1,500. The subsidy amount accruing to the farmers was expected to be credited to their bank accounts, which is yet to take place. Farmers followed all procedures in carrying out the cultivation.
However, the harvest was quite disappointing. The farmers of Phulbani block were the worst hit. They alleged that they were not given proper training by the horticulture department prior to cultivation nor any field official visited the farmland to oversee the cultivation.
As a result, they carried out farming with minimum knowledge. Horticulture officials, however, rejected the charges. The officials said the farmers who followed advisory reaped a good harvest and those failing to take care of their crops suffered loss.
The demand and price of potato is rising day by day. The price of a kg of potato was Rs 15 last week which has now gone up to Rs 25. Farmer couple Nabarathi Kanhar and Soudamini Kanhar who suffered loss said that they will never take up tuber cultivation in future.
When contacted, Mihir Samantaray, deputy director of the horticulture department, said the cultivation was taken up in the district with a hope that farmers could reap a bumper harvest as the night temperature will remain low during monsoon.
However, back to back low-pressure resulted in incessant rainfall which spoiled their plan. He, however, rejected complete loss in cultivation.