Kendrapara: Just two months back, potato was being sold at Rs 25 to Rs 30 per kg in Kendrapara district. However, much has changed within these two months with prices of the tuber dropping to an unbelievable low. Things have come to such a pass that farmers are forced to resort to distress sale. They are now selling potato at just Rs 4 per kg to the traders, who are selling it at Rs 7 per kg in the open market.
Undertaking potato cultivation has been a let-down for farmers as the district neither has storage facilities nor government mandis to store or sell their harvested potatoes. Lack of storage facilities in the district has forced farmers to sell off the potato at throwaway prices.
Potato farmer Bidhubhushan Mohapatra of Palei village under Derabish block said that he has cultivated the product on four acre of farmland. However, now he along with many of his ilk is facing problems to store or sell off their produce. Mohapatra said that he is facing a loss of close to Rs 40,000.
Another farmer, Kalpataru Samantaray of Pattamundai said that the local farmers have cultivated potato on over 30,000 hectare of farmland. However, they are unable to store their leftover stocks anywhere for sale later. Moreover, they are forced to sell their harvest to the local traders due to lack of any government mandi, he pointed out. The Odisha government’s ambitious ‘Potato Mission’ programme will succeed only if it takes care to resolve these problems, Samantaray added.
Local entrepreneur Ratanlal Samal said that farmers have been forced to resort to distress sale during harvest of tomato and potato. Realising the problems, many aspiring youths are interested to set up food processing industry for manufacturing of potato chips and tomato sauce.
They have been contacting various banks and the district industry centre to get a loan. However, no such industry has been established yet in the district due to lack of coordination between the banks and the district industry centre, rued Samal.
Farmer leader Gayadhar Dhal said that the Odisha government launched ‘Potato Mission’ in 2015-16 to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of tuber. The mission implemented by the Horticulture department aimed at making the farmers self-reliant through potato cultivation and reducing dependency on outside states for the essential tubers.
The ‘Potato Mission’ however has failed to achieve any success. The Odisha government had sanctioned Rs 20 crore in 2017-18 FY for the mission but not a single pie has been spent under the scheme which finds mention in the 2019 CAG report.
The problem could be resolved only through establishment of food processing units, cold storages and government mandis, farmers said.
When contacted, Debadas Dutta, assistance director of Horticulture department said that the problem can be resolved with construction of cold storages but there is not a single facility in Kendrapara district.
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