Agra, Nov 26 : Notwithstanding last season's bad experience due to glut in potatoes that has pushed down prices in markets, farmers of Agra region in Uttar Pradesh cultivate potatoes again saying that they have no other option due to soil conditions.
Farmers said that their options to shift to other cash crops are primarily limited by scarcity of irrigation facilities and low water table in the region. They said that potato is a less water intensive crop and they have to live with it to sustain their livelihood.
"We sow potato out of many limitations. Foremost problem is shortage of water in the area. Therefore, it is very difficult to get good harvest from other crops," said Suresh, a farmer.
The cold storages are still brimming with last year's bumper harvest and have hardly any space to store new crop arrivals expected soon.
"Last year huge quantities of potatoes were produced because of wrong calculations of both market as well as sown area of the crop. This resulted in cold storages over flooding with potatoes. Despite that about 25 percent of the crop could not be stored. This also meant that the cold storage potatoes had no buyers in the markets," said Dungar Singh, owner of a cold storage.
"During harvest the rate of potato was around 400 to 500 rupees per quintal. As against this the rates have now come down to around 200 rupees per quintal," said Suresh Chandra Gupta, district horticulture officer.
The "potato belt'' spread across Uttar Pradesh's Agra, Etah and Hathras districts contributes around eight per cent of the country's potato production. By Brajesh Kumar Singh