Aakanksha N Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, December 19
Almost three years have passed but the condition of potato growers is not improving. The problem is so severe that several reports of farmers destroying their own crops near Amritsar have started coming up and Jalandhar farmers are troubled too. A war for sale has begun.
They are continuously suffering and forced to bury their lush green crop, nourished by taking loans in the hope of earning some profit. In the absence of a remunerative price (as potato is being sold not more than Rs 250 per quintal as per the farmers), they say that they were left with no option but to destroy the crop.
Even in some of the places on the outskirts of the city, one can see heaps of potatoes lying abandoned on the road.
While the crop that was sown last year is still kept in cold stores, now it has no value. Now, the farmers are throwing away their old crop.
Kirpal Singh, a farmer from Jalandhar, said the farmers were suffering under severe crisis.
He said the average cost of production of potato per acre was approximately Rs 55,000.
He said besides other expenditure before sowing of the crop, Rs 7,000 was spent on fertilisers, Rs 1,000 on the labour for irrigation and Rs 6,000 for labour for rest of the works such as digging. A sum of Rs 1,500 was spent on pesticides.
“But what do we get in return? Nothing. In this case, what a farmer can do. We always look up to the government to help us, but nothing has been done,” he said.
Another distressed farmer Tarsem Lal from Ucha village said everyone was suffering.
“After demonetisation, our crops are not being sold. Earlier, we used to sell the same to other states such as West Bengal and Gujarat, but now it has stopped.
“To run our families is a big task, only a farmer knows how he is managing his day-to-day affairs,” said Lal.
Joga Singh from Chak Chela village said a farmer was now helpless and was unable to do anything.
“We have taken loans from banks, and the liability is increasing with every passing day. We are not getting anything for our crops, and don’t know what will happen in the future,” he said.
When asked if he has any other option now, he said he would now switch to rice and wheat crops.
The farmers said the government makes statements on crop diversification, but the condition of potatoes was forcing them to go back to the wheat and rice crop cycle.
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