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Low prices are causing heavy losses for potato growers in Punjab


The potato growers in Punjab suffer significant losses as they receive very low prices for their products. They have appealed to the state government to provide assistance during this challenging period.

Growers have only received 4-4.50 per kg for their products, unlike the 17 to 18 per kg they received last year.

The low prices have made it difficult for farmers to cover their input costs, leading them to store their products in cold stores in the hope that prices will rise in the coming months.

This season, Punjab cultivated 1.14 lakh hectares of land for potato cultivation and achieved a record yield of 31.50 lakh metric tons. Punjab is known as the largest producer of seed potatoes, supplying the crop to several states such as West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar, Assam, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Farmers in Punjab, however, are struggling with sharply falling prices due to a surplus of potato crops in other potato-producing states.

“Potato prices fell at the beginning of this season. This is due to the record harvest in the potato-producing states of the country,” says potato grower Harbans Singh Walia. Walia grows potatoes on 25 to 30 hectares of land in the village of Mansoorwal in Kapurthala district.

He also noted that there has been less demand for potatoes in other states such as West Bengal and Gujarat this season.

The potato growers expressed their displeasure and stated that they are the hardest hit group due to the sharp fall in potato prices. They have urged the state government to set a minimum price for the crop in the markets (mandis) to ensure that the crop is not sold below this price. Such a measure would help growers to recoup their input costs.

It is the middlemen who make money, said farmer Raghubir Singh, who lives in Jalandhar.

According to growers, a farmer is worried 7 to 8 per kg as import costs on the potato crops. They regretted that with the applicable tariffs they were not able to recoup their input costs.

“Our import costs are 7-8 per kg and we are dealing with a loss of 50 percent,” says another grower from Jalandhar, JS Sangha.

Faced with heavy losses due to low prices, potato growers urged the state government to step forward and help them.

Kapurthala-based farmer Harbans Walia said, “The state government should provide a freight subsidy so that growers can sell it in other states. There should be a subsidy on electricity consumed in cold storage.”

The main districts in Punjab for potato cultivation are Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr.

The early table potatoes are harvested in November and December, while the harvest of both table and seed potatoes takes place in February and March. Moreover, the potato varieties Pukhraj and Kufri Jyoti from Punjab, among others, are highly sought after in other states.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.