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WB potato farmers celebrate govt schemes but voice need for more initiatives

Potato farmers held on to their produce to reap major benefits, which shows better financial conditions, say government officials

Sabrangindia 14 Apr 2021

Potato

West Bengal’s potato farmers welcomed the many steps undertaken by the state government to assure fair prices to their produce without bringing in moneylenders and middlemen, reported the Telegraph on April 13, 2021.

Cold storages were filled at maximum capacity in the wake of a bumper crop that anticipated huge sales for the 15 lakh-odd potato farmers. The agriculture marketing department estimated 115 lakh tonnes of potatoes were produced in the state against an average annual harvest of 90 lakh tonnes. Moreover, peasants owned 70 percent of these stocks.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) government employed schemes such as buying of stocks from peasants and issuance of Kisan Credit Cards, hoping to gain favour in the potato belt of Hooghly, East Burdwan, Birbhum, West Midnapore and parts of Murshidabad for the Assembly election. According to agriculture department officials, the TMC would have struggled to retain power if they lost people’s favour in this part of the state.

Accordingly, instead of resorting to distress sales like earlier sales, farmers held onto the produce until they availed deserving prices. Government officials considered this a significant decision because the wait indicated farmers were in a better financial position. Further, Kisan Credit Cards provided easy farm loans for 80 percent potato farmers,  who no longer needed to interact with moneylenders.

Earlier in mid-February, potato prices decreased to Rs. 4 per kg during harvesting. Farmers were in deep trouble as the input cost was estimated to be Rs 5. for producing a kilogram of potato. However, the government bought 10 lakh tonnes of potatoes at Rs. 6 per kg on February 23 to relieve the burden on farmers.

According to The Telegraph, increased paddy procurement also provided benefits to farmers to invest better in potatoes. Despite the benefits, farmers added that the government still needs to help with the sale of cold storage produce.

Hooghly district farmer Milan Kumar voiced a hope that the administration will help him sell his two tonnes of stored potatoes outside the state if the price is below Rs. 12 to Rs.14 per kg. Similarly, Birbhum district’s farmer Rishi Adak asked the government to provide more cold storages in the potato belt along with the assistance already provided.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been promising this last demand to potato farmers during his election rallies. However, in response the TMC states that it has been working towards that end for the past few years. Regardless, experts said that such a move will also benefit neighbouring states such as Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh in the dry season. This will also help with competition against other states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat that enjoy better infrastructure and thus capture the market in the absence of other state’s export policy and storage capacity.

Related:

West Bengal has highest number of hospital beds in government hospitals: CDDEP

Battleground Bengal: EC's different strokes for different folks

Battleground Bengal: Campaign ban on Mamata Banerjee parting shot by outgoing CEC?

Sitalkuchi killings: This blood won’t wash easy…

WB potato farmers celebrate govt schemes but voice need for more initiatives

Potato farmers held on to their produce to reap major benefits, which shows better financial conditions, say government officials

Potato

West Bengal’s potato farmers welcomed the many steps undertaken by the state government to assure fair prices to their produce without bringing in moneylenders and middlemen, reported the Telegraph on April 13, 2021.

Cold storages were filled at maximum capacity in the wake of a bumper crop that anticipated huge sales for the 15 lakh-odd potato farmers. The agriculture marketing department estimated 115 lakh tonnes of potatoes were produced in the state against an average annual harvest of 90 lakh tonnes. Moreover, peasants owned 70 percent of these stocks.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) government employed schemes such as buying of stocks from peasants and issuance of Kisan Credit Cards, hoping to gain favour in the potato belt of Hooghly, East Burdwan, Birbhum, West Midnapore and parts of Murshidabad for the Assembly election. According to agriculture department officials, the TMC would have struggled to retain power if they lost people’s favour in this part of the state.

Accordingly, instead of resorting to distress sales like earlier sales, farmers held onto the produce until they availed deserving prices. Government officials considered this a significant decision because the wait indicated farmers were in a better financial position. Further, Kisan Credit Cards provided easy farm loans for 80 percent potato farmers,  who no longer needed to interact with moneylenders.

Earlier in mid-February, potato prices decreased to Rs. 4 per kg during harvesting. Farmers were in deep trouble as the input cost was estimated to be Rs 5. for producing a kilogram of potato. However, the government bought 10 lakh tonnes of potatoes at Rs. 6 per kg on February 23 to relieve the burden on farmers.

According to The Telegraph, increased paddy procurement also provided benefits to farmers to invest better in potatoes. Despite the benefits, farmers added that the government still needs to help with the sale of cold storage produce.

Hooghly district farmer Milan Kumar voiced a hope that the administration will help him sell his two tonnes of stored potatoes outside the state if the price is below Rs. 12 to Rs.14 per kg. Similarly, Birbhum district’s farmer Rishi Adak asked the government to provide more cold storages in the potato belt along with the assistance already provided.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been promising this last demand to potato farmers during his election rallies. However, in response the TMC states that it has been working towards that end for the past few years. Regardless, experts said that such a move will also benefit neighbouring states such as Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh in the dry season. This will also help with competition against other states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat that enjoy better infrastructure and thus capture the market in the absence of other state’s export policy and storage capacity.

Related:

West Bengal has highest number of hospital beds in government hospitals: CDDEP

Battleground Bengal: EC's different strokes for different folks

Battleground Bengal: Campaign ban on Mamata Banerjee parting shot by outgoing CEC?

Sitalkuchi killings: This blood won’t wash easy…

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