Highlighting the plight of potato farmers in Agra, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Varanasi (all Uttar Pradesh) Hoogly, Bardwan (all West Bengal) and other parts of the country Shri Rajnath Singh today mentioned the following points in his statement during the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha.
Shri Rajnath Singh raised the issue in Parliament immediately after coming back from his visit to potato growing areas of West Bengal. The suggestions made by Shri Singh during the Zero Hour were also welcomed by senior members like Shri Sharad Yadav and supported by several other members present in the House.
- Distress sale of potatoes in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and other areas is leading to suicides and depression among the potato growers.
- Farmers are incurring huge losses because of abysmally low field price of potato. Due to non-availability of storage facilities, they are forced to sell their produce for measly Rs one to three per kg, which is much less than their input costs.
- According to rough estimates each potato farmer is incurring a loss of Rs 15000 to 30000 per acre.
- Most of the farmers had taken debt to fund the input cost of growing potatoes in their fields. Even after a good harvest they are not able to repay their loans.
- Prices of essential commodities like potatoes are manipulated artificially by the speculators at Commodity Exchanges. Against the total turnover of more than 40 lakh tones of potatoes the actual delivery taken is only of 7215 tones, which is less than 1 percent (.18 percent).
- The rent of cold storage paid by the farmers should actually be borne by the Government.
- The interest on loans to potato farmers should be waived of.
- Government should develop a mechanism to purchase the potatoes grown by farmers all over the country.
- The Government should come up with structural and procedural changes in its policies to ensure fair and remunerative prices for perishable items like Potatoes, Tomatoes and Onions.
- Speculation on essential commodities should be stopped by the Government.