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Haryana Potato Farmers Struggle with Plummeting Prices; Urge Government Support

Traders said that the primary factors contributing to the decline in prices were higher arrivals and consistent demand.

Image for representational purpose. Courtesy: PTI

Potato farmers from parts of Haryana are grappling with a severe economic setback as market prices for the crop have hit an all-time low. The current rates stand at Rs 250-550 per quintal, significantly lower than the production costs ranging from Rs 650 to Rs 800 per quintal.

According to a report by The Tribune, the farmers have blamed higher arrivals and lower demand for poor prices. Potatoes are being sold in markets around Kurukshetra for Rs 5 to 6 a kg in wholesale and Rs 10 in retail.

Rakesh Kumar, a potato grower, was quoted as saying: “I have sold my produce for Rs 400-550 a quintal, but my production cost is Rs 700-800 a quintal. The government claims that it compensates the farmers under the Bhavantar Bharpai scheme but the secured price for potato is Rs 600 a quintal. It should be at least Rs 800 a quintal.”

Sukhchain Singh, another potato grower, told the daily, “I have sold some stock for Rs 500 a quintal but prices are expected to go down in the coming days. The farmers have no option but to sell at cheaper rates. We can just hope that the government will compensate us for the loss and release the amount on time.”

Kulbir Singh, a trader, told The Tribune that the primary factors contributing to the decline in prices were higher arrivals and a consistent demand. He suggested that, to shield farmers from such situations, the government ought to initiate surveys of crops during sowing. Singh further proposed that the government should issue advisories to farmers, advising them against excessive sowing to prevent a crash in prices.

Anshul Bansal, another trader, was quoted as saying: “The market sees low rates every year but this year, these rates have come a little early. To get better prices, the farmers should shift to better qualities that can be stored in cold stores and sold later in the year. The potato being harvested now is known as ‘kacha’ potato and it can’t be stored. The produce that will be harvested around March will be stored in cold stores and sold till October and farmers will get better prices for their produce.”

According to Pawan Kumar, the secretary of the Pipli grain market, initially, in November, the prices ranged from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 per quintal. However, as arrivals increased, the prices experienced a gradual decline. He noted that approximately 5 lakh quintals have entered the market thus far.

Director General, Directorate of Horticulture, Dr Arjun Singh, was quoted by The Tribune as saying: “The department is introducing a new seed (7008 Kufri Uday) to help farmers get better prices in the market for their produce. It is an early variety and farmers will get better prices as early varieties get better prices. The potato crop is covered under the Bhavantar Bharpai scheme by the government and the secured price is Rs 600 a quintal. Farmers are compensated with the difference between the secured price and the sale price. The government has given Rs 32 crore for potato farmers this year under the Bhavantar scheme.”

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