Potato prices slump in Punjab

Potato prices slump in Punjab

Potato prices in Punjab have plummeted to abysmally low levels leaving farmers distressed.

The crop is being sold in the wholesale market at around Rs 2.5 per kg, sometimes even less.

Punjab is staring at a repeat of the 2015 winter when farmers dumped hundreds of tonnes of potatoes onto the streets as a mark of protest amid falling prices.

Farmers have now again threatened to throw their crop onto the streets in case the government does not intervene with viable solutions.

The glut in cold storages has escalated the crisis. Farmers stocked their unsold produce early this year hoping they will get adequate remunerative price later. But that has not been the case.

Reports suggest many farmers have even abandoned their stocks lying in cold storage. Hordes of tractor trolleys stocked with potato crop on roads have become a common sight in Punjab.

Farmer associations have urged the government to work towards exporting the crop to Pakistan through the Attari-Wagha border.

Producers say prices in Pakistan are far more remunerative and could help offset losses.

The Confederation of Potato Seeds Farmers suggests the crisis started last year when more than half the produce was pushed into cold storage as there were no buyers. And the fresh produce has now led to a glut.

In certain pockets, potatoes are being sold at less than Rs 250 per quintal. Last month, farmers staged a token protest by dumping tonnes of produce onto the streets near Mohali. The protest could get bigger, farmers threaten.

Farmers say there is no way they can meet even their input costs. Loses could go up to Rs 20,000 per acre will plummeting prices.

Input costs added up to Rs 35,000 per acre with returns hovering around Rs 15,000 per acre.

The confederation also suggested the government export potatoes to Russia and the Middle East where there is a big demand.

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