Chances of bumper potato crop trigger fear of glut

Bathinda, January 12: Though potato growers are upbeat over the prevailing weather conditions, hoping for a bumper crop again this season, they are a bit apprehensive too that it may lead to a glut and they will not get remunerative prices of their crop.
Baljinder Singh, a farmer from Naruana village, said, “We are certainly looking forward to a bumper crop, but at the same time we fear that potato prices will come crashing down as they did last year. The nature is with us, but unfortunately we can’t say the same about the government.”

He said they got nothing out of potato crop last year and the government must step in to ensure that the farmers get their due this time. He said the cold storages cashed in on the crisis last year and charged anywhere between Rs 80 to Rs 130 as storage charges for a bag of potato.
“It is no more financially viable to grow potatoes and that is why the area under potato cultivation has gone down by 40 per cent. I myself have reduced the area from last year’s 8 acres to just 3 acres now,” he added.
Gurpyas Singh, a farmer from Govindpura village, said, “The rate of potatoes has already down and it may dip further once the fresh bumper crop arrives in the market.”
He said they could hope of making some profit only if potato sells at Rs 600 per quintal. He said the input cost of the potato crop was high, adding that the labour cost alone was Rs 5,000 per acre. He lamented that they suffered huge losses last year and they couldn’t afford another loss-making season.
Darshan Singh, a farmer from Rampura Phul, said he had sown potato crop on 35 acres and like others he too was a bit nervous about the rates he would fetch in the market.
Deputy Director, Horticulture, Gurkewal Singh Dhillon admitted that the area under potato cultivation had declined from 6,500 hectares to 5,100 hectares in Bathinda due to the losses suffered by the farmers over the last couple of years. Regarding potato prices this year, he said it would be too early to predict as it all depends on potato production in states like UP and West Bengal.

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