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Markfed offers freight subsidy to potato farmers
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Markfed has offered Rs 250 per tonne as freight subsidy to potato farmers across the state for inter-state movement of the crop and Rs 1,000 per tonne as freight subsidy for exports.

Financial Commissioner (Cooperation) BC Gupta said today that the department had written to the financial commissioner development for the funds needed for the subsidy.

Markfed MD GS Grewal said the federation would need almost Rs 5.2 crore for the payment of this subsidy. Rs 5 crore is required for the payment of the interstate freight subsidy while another Rs 20 lakh would be needed for the subsidy on export. “This would help in stabilising market prices and also attract private players to enter the market,” said Grewal.

“We are expecting the export volume to range between 2,000 metric tonnes and about 4,000 tonnes,” added Grewal.

Gupta added that an officer of Markfed, along with potato farmers from the state, had left for Sri Lanka and the Middle East to look for more opportunities to exporting the crop.

Meanwhile, Jaswinder Singh Sangha, general secretary of the Jalandhar Potato Growers Association, said the government had agreed to only one of their two demands. “The main demand that Punjab government fix the MSP of potato at Rs 3 has not been met. This has been done in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

Sources said the state government was also mulling over the idea of buying the crop from the farmers. “This issue is being considered by the government, but no final decision has been taken on the matter,” added Grewal.

Director (Horticulture) Baldev Singh said over 77,000 hectares in Punjab is under potato cultivation and this year the state had produced over 18 lakh metric tonnes of potato.

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

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