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Farmers in Several UP Districts Claim 25% Crop Loss due to Cold

Potatoes, tomatoes and green vegetables in these regions have been damaged with farmers fearing heavy losses.
Farmers in Several UP Districts Claim 25% Crop Loss due to Cold

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Flickr

Lucknow: Farmers in Sitapur, Balrampur, Mathura, Hathras Kannauj and a few parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh have claimed that around 25% of crops have been damaged due to the intense cold wave sweeping the state.

Potatoes, tomatoes and green vegetables in these regions have been damaged with farmers fearing heavy losses and worried about paying off debts.

Potato, tomato, peas, mustard and its varieties, and leafy vegetables in several hectares have wilted due to the intense cold and dense fog. This has caused loss to farmers in Sitapur, Balrampur, Mathura, Hathras, Kannauj and a few parts in eastern UP,” Ram Bahadur Yadav, a farmer from Sitapur, told Newsclick adding that “if the conditions prevail for a few more days, it will affect crops across the state”.

Ravindra Singh Bhati, from Mathura, did not cultivate crops for around two years after suffering a heavy loss due to COVID-19. “This year, I took a loan from a moneylender and sowed some green vegetables. But the cold wave has made things worse. If the weather remains the same for a few more days, I will suffer a huge loss,” he said.

Most vegetable growers are in debt in the Braj region, he added. “The UP government should announce special financial aid for farmers and implement a proper marketing policy.”

Newsclick also spoke with dozens of landless farmers in Mainpuri and Etawah who take land on annual leases and are now bearing the brunt of the cold wave. Most potato growers take land on annual leases, they said. Apart from the increase in lease rate, the input costs of almost all vegetables have also increased, but rates are not increasing, they added.

Mainpuri, Etawah, Kannauj, Mathura, Agra, Sirsaganj, Farrukhabad and Aligarh and parts of Kanpur are among a few districts known for high potato produce.

Sanjeev Yadav, Etawah district president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), told Newsclick that most potato growers in Mainpuri, Etawah and Kannauj take land on annual leases of Rs 10,000-Rs 40,000 per acre.

During cultivation, five packets of seeds are used in one bigha, which costs Rs 1,000-Rs 5,000. Farmers also need two to five bags of diammonium phosphate, which costs Rs 1,350 per bag if they get it from the cooperative marketing society. Otherwise, they pay Rs 1,650-Rs 2,000 per bag to private shops,” he explained the cost incurred in growing potatoes.

We also spray weedicide on potatoes and it costs Rs 200-Rs 500. To treat potato seeds, we use five bags of fungicide in one bigha, with each bag costing Rs 50-Rs 200. Irrigating one acre, at least, for two hours three to four times a day is costly as we pay Rs 200 electricity charges per hour. In the end, potatoes are sprayed with three different kinds of doses and each dose costs Rs 1,200-Rs 2,500. Adding these expenditures plus the labour cost, the production cost ranges between Rs 50,000 and Rs 60,000 per acre.”

Yadav added that the “recovery would be half of the input cost if the yield is sold at Rs 5 per kg. Potato growers can profit only when the crop is sold above Rs 10 per kg. Reality is that they never recover even their input cost”.

Apart from the rise in lease rate, the input costs of almost all vegetables have also increased over the years. The UP government should announce some financial aid for vegetable growers, the BKU leader further added. 

Around 25% of the crop has been damaged so far, farmers in these regions claimed. “If the harsh weather continues for a few more days, we are afraid that the size of potatoes will remain small due to which net production would decrease,” Shyam Singh Chahar, a farmer leader in Agra, told Newsclick.

The farmers alleged that no official had assessed the ground situation despite plants turning black. Chahar said the remaining potato, tomato, coriander, brinjal and other green vegetables could be destroyed if the cold persists.

Dew drops on crops later freeze and block the stomata of plants and leaves. Consequently, they start drying up increasing the possibility of blight in tender stems, buds and leaves of crops like potato, tomato, brinjals, etc.,” he added.

Chahar claimed that a potato grower requires Rs 90,000 for sowing till harvesting. “Farmers take land on leases at the rate of Rs 30,000 for one bigha for one year. Besides, nearly Rs 30,000 is required for spraying pesticides and fertilisers and another Rs 15,000 for harvesting. The expenditure adds up to Rs 90,000 per bigha in the Agra region, including transportation charges to cold storage.”

A 50 kg potato sack is being sold for Rs 400-Rs 500, he said. “Until it is sold for Rs 700, farmers will be in loss,” he added.

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