Sacks of potatoes line both sides of the road at Alwalpur village in Jandu Singha. Distressed by a glut for the third consecutive season, farmers are unable to find buyers for the produce.
In sheer desperation, they are giving away sacks of potatoes for free. At least 12 of them have stopped cultivating the crop. “Either we let the crop rot on village streets or give it away to Gujjars for free,” says a local farmer. In Jandu Singha alone, as many as 10 famers have given up potato farming since they are unable to meet the input cost.Jaswinder Singh Sangha, who grows potato on 440 hectares, has over 15,000 sacks (about 700 tonnes) of last year’s produce lying in his cold store.
“We spend at least Rs 50,000 per acre on cultivation, besides Rs 500 on each sack. The sacks that we earlier sold for Rs 600 to 700 each are now being dumped by our men. It’s better to give it for free than let the crop rot,” he observes.
“For the past three years, my cold store has incurred Rs 4 to 6 crore losses. There isn’t enough money to meet the maintenance cost. With the government calling for diversification, many farmers switched to potato farming, but for the past three years, all that we have reaped is loss. We thought the government would fix MSP and take measures to revive potato farming this year, but nothing has been done,” he says.
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