Jalandhar: Blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation, potato growers from the Doaba belt of Punjab on Monday said that they faced huge losses of two consecutive crops amounting, as there was no buyers of the tuber crop worth Rs 1,500 crore. They demanded MSP for potato crop.
Potato growers under JPGA issued a week’s ultimatum to government, failing which they would pile up potatoes outside banks
Potato growers under Jalandhar Potato Grower Association (JPGA) on Monday said that potato growing was a purely agriculture activity and has nothing to do with tax evasion. “But, Modi’s demonetisation ruined the potato growers, which was even worse than the industrialists,” they said.
Jaswinder Singh Sangha, the general secretary of JPGA said that the last crop of potato was ruined in the first week of November, when demonetisation was announced by Modi in the country. “The dispatch of potato crop to West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharastra and Karnataka has just began in the first week of November, when demonetisation was announced by the PM. This left us with no buyers of the crop in any of these states,” he said.
Sangha also said that in spite of advance agreement with the buyers from all potato consuming states, none of them was able to adhere to the pact because of the financial crunch owing to demonetisation.
JPGA president Raghbir Singh and Sangha maintained that if the situation did not improve within a week, they would be left with no other option but to intensify the agitation. “We would be forced to pile up potato produce outside all banks in the Doaba belt, which was famous for potato crop,” they said.
Earlier, they also handed over a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Kamal Kishor Yadav addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Agriculture Minister and Chief Minister Punjab.
“We were facing a peculiar situation, as assembly election results would be out on March 11. The new government would come into being on March 20 and by that time, summers would have arrived too. The bulk potato crop would be badly affected with rising mercury,” they said.
Raghbir Singh highlighted that the cultivation of the next potato seed was already done in the month of October. “Now the harvesting time has come but there were no buyers of the potato crop because of demonetisation. Financial crunch was staring the potato growers”, he said.
Notably, the Doaba belt of Punjab was known as the ‘Potato Seed Production’ region, which caters to the demand of entire country’s potato growers.
The JPGA members also maintained that potato seed production was a finance intensive activity and the farmers in Punjab had raised massive crop loans from banks owing to the heavy investment required to produce quality seed. “The government should implement friendly scheme to waive off the principle amount of Potato growers along with the interest of the cultivators of the region,” they demanded.
Meanwhile, the JPGA farmers also demanded that potato crop should be purchased under market intervention scheme by government agencies like NAFED, MARKFED and other neighbouring countries Singapore, Malaysian, Middle East, Russia and Sri Lanka. “Even potato could also b supplied by the government for Mid-Day meals in schools,” they maintained.
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