Sowing for potato is showing a declining trend in north Bengal. “I cannot take chance again after the hardship I had to face with my last year’s crop,” said Jiban Mandal, a veteran farmer from Jalpaiguri district. Jalpaiguri contributes around 19 lakh metric ton (MT).
SILIGURI: Low level of price realization and severe shortage of storage space, potato farming is in downturn this sowing season in northern West Bengal. It is one of the highest contributing zones to national potato yield.
Like Mandal, many other farmers in other potato yielding districts in north Bnegal like Maldaha or Coochbihar also decided not to sow potato in this rabi season .
According to the farmers, the cost of seed, fertilizer, medicines and manpower put together comes around 45 to 50 thousand rupee per acre. In addition, there are other cost factors like high irrigation expenses and heavy interest of private loans. “With all these we get an average yield of near 20 MT per acre. But against that, field level price realization last year remained bellow Rs 4000 per MT last year leaving hardly anything as my take home,” said Mandal.
According to the market experts, table demand of potato in the region is less than 35% of yield. Eventually, the only option remains is storage. But that is also in too critical situation.
Against 19 lakh MT production, total capacity of all cold storages there is around 1 lakh MT only- informed Patit Paban Dey, President of West Bengal Cold Storage Association. Things are not very bright at state level either. Against 100 lakh MT annual production of Bengal, storage capacity is 70 Lakh Mt.