15 March 2021
Bengal growers financially hit
A SECTION of farmers in Bengal say an unknown disease has made potatoes unfit for consumption, adding to losses, while the price of good quality seeds have skyrocketed.
At the same time, the minimum support price (MSP) fixed has remained relatively low.
One 60-year-old potato cultivator from the Hooghly district, which is known for its potatoes, said in a recent interview with Down To Earth, that he had never been more financially strained than the current season and growers risked losing their homes if selling prices did not increase.
He said: “The profits which we made last year is already gone.”
West Bengal is a major potato-growing states of India. The farmers in the state mainly grow Jyoti, Chandramukhi and hybrid varieties like Super S1, Super 6 and Pokhraj.
The retail price of potatoes in Kolkata was Rs 10 per kilogram (kg) for Jyoti, the most common variety grown and procured, and Rs 15-16 per kg for Chandramukhi.
In February this year, the state government fixed the MSP of potatoes (Jyoti variety) at Rs 300 for a bag (50 kg), which translated to Rs 6 per kg.
This was done to prevent the distress sale of produce like last year when initially farmers didn’t get a good price for the potatoes and then suddenly prices skyrocketed to Rs 1,400-1,500 per bag.
Cultivators in Bengal prefer seeds from Punjab because they are disease-free and offer better yield. The price of these seeds has increased to Rs 5,000-5,200 for each bag from Rs 3,000 last year.
Source and photo: Down To Earth