Farmers have been reluctant in withdrawing their potatoes from cold storages as the price and demand of the agricultural produce are very low.
A kilo of potatoes for just 20 paise! Isn’t it shocking? But, that’s right! This is the price for potatoes in Uttar Pradesh where the winter season have turned out to be really cold for the potato farmers and traders. As per a report by Times of India, with farmers not turning up at cold storage facilities to take away their potato produce, and the produce beginning to rot, the storage owners have started dumping the rotting tubers on roadsides and fields. This has led to the steep decline in the prices of potatoes. Farmers have been reluctant in withdrawing their potatoes from cold storages as the price and demand of the agricultural produce are very low.
Apart from this, farmers have to pay transportation cost to take potatoes for sale to big markets. Moreover, to take the potatoes from cold storage centres, farmers have to pay storage fees of Rs 110 per packet. The lack of interest of farmers in taking back their potato produce has made cold storage units switch off their preservation machines to save on electricity expenses. This is causing rapid rotting of potatoes.
“The time period for storage is over. Even after several days of delay, farmers are not coming to take their stored potatoes, because of the very low market rate prevailing at present. The produce can’t be preserved any longer, and we have no other options apart from dumping them. Cleaning and repairing works are required to be started in the units for agricultural produce in the coming season,” said Sudarshan Agarwal, President of Agra Cold Storage Association.
It is estimated that around 50 lakh sacks of 50 kg each, totalling 2.5 lakh tonnes of potatoes, are kept in cold storages of Agra district alone. “Farmers can’t afford to pay storage rates or transport produce to the markets, so we can’t take the produce away. Farmers have suffered a massive loss because of this,” Aamir Bhai, general secretary of Potato Producers’ Association was quoted saying by TOI.
However, horticulturists and experts say that potatoes should not be dumped in open areas and strict action will be taken against those doing so. “We are sending a proposal to the district administration for constitution of a monitoring committee for safe disposal of the produce. The committee will include officials of Agra Municipal Corporation, Pollution Control board, departments of animal husbandry, agriculture and horticulture as well as representatives of the district administration,” Dr Kaushal Kumar, Deputy Director of horticulture was quoted saying.
Potato is a major crop in the district, cultivated in around 72,000 hectares. Agra division, which includes Agra, Firozabad, Mathura and Mainpuri, is one of the major producers of the tuber in the country.