The fate of potato farmers in central Uttar Pradesh, nicknamed ‘potato belt’, remains in a limbo. In last three years, the fluctuating market conditions coupled with erratic official response has worsened the agony of thousands of farmers in this region. The reasons vary every year but the predicament remains the same.
This year, the crop has registered a bumper harvest owing to elevated mood of farmers fuelled by remunerative potato prices last year. The ensuing glut has led to nose-diving of prices, trapping the farmers between debts and urgency to sell of the produce before prices decline further.
Now, after the Centre has enabled the export of potato from neighbouring West Bengal, the prices have started witnessing slight improvements of 20-30 per cent compared to last month but the farmers have already run out of crop.
According to estimates, the farmers have sold over 84 per cent of their produce in districts of central UP. Around 5 million tonnes of the produce have already been sold in the market while the farmers are left with hardly one million tonne now. This amount was supposed to be spared for domestic consumption and agricultural sowing purposes.
Bharatiya Kisan Union secretary Raj Kumar Singh said the farmers had to sell their produce at Rs 250 per quintal owing to fears that the flood may lead to throwing away of harvest if sale is delayed further.