Nothing in budget for potato growers, say upset farmers

AGRA: Farmers in Agra region, which is a major producer of potato, are upset with the state government as, they claim, there is nothing in the budget to address their issues, even after assurances by ministers. Potato farmers of the region claim that they are not even able to recover input costs and many are staring at losses. They say that they will go on protest if the government fails to provide any relief to them.
District head of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) Mohan Singh Chahar said, “The minimum support price determined by the government for procurement of potato at Rs 487 a quintal is very less and will not cover 50% of the input cost. We have demanded that it be made Rs 1,050 a quintal. We want mandi tax to go and there should be subsidy on preservation of potato. None of these three demands crucial for welfare of potato farmers have been addressed in the annual budget. Farmers of Agra region are in trouble and the government must provide some relief.”
Potato crop in the district is cultivated in more than 72,000 hectares. Agra division — which includes Agra, Firozabad, Mathura and Mainpuri districts — is one of the major producers of superior variety of the tuber. Locally produced potato is supplied to most of the states, including Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
According to sources, earlier this month, state agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi visted Agra to participate in an event of Federation of Cold Storage Association of India and hinted towards putting end to ‘mandi tax’ — levied on farmers for allowing them to sell their produce. On July 7, forest and horticulture minister Dara Singh Chauhan visited the city to attend an event and listened to the problems of potato farmers and assured that there will be some measures for them in the annual state budget.
Farmers were expecting that the state government will at least abolish the mandi tax and give subsidy on preservation of potato in cold storages. But no such announcement was made in the budget presented on July 11. However, the government had earlier determined the minimum support price for procurement of potato at the rate of Rs 487 a quintal, but farmers claimed that it is less and will not benefit them.

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