M A I N   N E W S

Farmers dump the hot potato
Gurdeep Mann
Tribune News Service

Markfed to step in

Chandigarh: A meeting of Markfed officials was held here on Tuesday. It was decided that the federation would be taking up the marketing of potatoes. However, a final decision in this regard was kept pending. — TNS

Khanna, February 3
Farmers today spilled potatoes on roads to lodge their protest with the Punjab government. They alleged that the government had been cheating them for the past many years and had not fulfilled their demands.

Farmers raised slogans against the government and blocked traffic at the Malerkotla chowk by unloading potatoes on the road.

President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) Balbir Singh Rajewal alleged that the government fooled poor farmers in order to come into power in the state. “The promises always fall flat when one comes into power”, Rajewal said.

He rued that the potato growers failed to get any return after spending huge amounts on potato crop. The sunflower seed was also not available in the market and farmers were forced to purchase the same at a price of Rs 2,200 or Rs 2,500 for the quantity to be sown per acre, he alleged.

“Surprisingly, the government is mum over this black marketing. Nothing has been done in this regard despite repeated complaints to various officials”, he added. He demanded MSP for potatoes on lines of that announced by the UP government, which had hiked it by Rs 100.

Farmers said if their demands were not met soon, they would gherao the Vidhan Sabha.

Meanwhile, around a quintal of potatoes spilled by farmers on the road were picked up by roadside vendors, beggars and migrants.

PTI adds: In 2001 also state potato growers destroyed their crop by throwing almost 30,000 quintals of potato alongside roads when in view of oversupply of the crop.

This year, potato prices in Punjab had crashed to almost seven years low at Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 per kg because of the bumper production in Punjab.

Potato experts say the fall in potato prices is due to the glut situation in Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for 42 per cent of potato production in the country.

Punjab, which has 4 per cent share in country’s total potato production, this year, brought 80,000 hectares of land under potato cultivation and is anticipating total potato output of 16-17 lakh metric tonne.



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