Last Updated: January 27, 2023, 4:36 PM IST
Farmers fear that if change in weather patterns continue, their yield may be disrupted once again. (News18 Photo)
Farmers cultivating potatoes who hoped for a good yield following the lack of rain, were disappointed as the weather continued to play spoilsport.
To cope with an unsuccessful paddy cultivation season due to the lack of rain, some farmers in Burdwan turned to potato cultivation to offset their losses. The decision however proved costly for them who claim that the cost of cultivation was no match to its selling price.
West Bengal’s East Burdwan district is often called a ‘Granary’. The district is one of the largest producers of potatoes in the state. Additionally, most of the state’s rice is cultivated here. Farmers in the region were forced to plant seeds twice last year due to rainfall conditions. Farmers cultivating potatoes who hoped for a good yield following the lack of rain, were disappointed as the weather continued to play spoilsport.
Bengal winters usually go on till early March, but this year the cold season seems to be nearing its end a lot sooner than expected. Farmers now fear that if this change in weather patterns continue, their yield may be disrupted once again.
According to farmers, the potato plant should be kept alive for over a month and require cold conditions to sustain. The end of winter could result in insect attacks among other concerns for farmers.
According to sources in the Agriculture Marketing Department, there are old bags of potatoes left in several cold storages in the district. The old stock is now being sold at a lower price in a bid to empty the freezers. However, the price of freshly harvested potatoes are no match for those in the old stock, causing concerns.
Farmers say, the cost of cultivation per bigha was Rs 18,000-20,000. The yield was 80-90 bags per bigha (50 kg per bag). The wholesale price of the potatoes are roughly Rs 250 to Rs 260 per bag. However, the potatoes are being sold in the retail market for just about Rs 6 to Rs 7 per kg.
Farmers also claim that this time last year, the same potatoes were sold for Rs 500 to 550 rupees per bag. The retail price was Rs 10 to Rs 12 per kg.
‘This time due to lack of rain, the paddy cultivation was limited. To compensate for that loss, we cultivated potatoes in advance on five acres of land. Now we deeply regret that decision. The cost of cultivation is not even recovered by selling the potatoes. We don’t know how we can handle losses twice in a row,’ a member from the farmer’s group said.
If the changing weather conditions persist, farmers say it could have a huge impact on their livelihood and make cultivation almost impossible.
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