Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 30:
The State Potato Mission, announced by the Odisha government to encourage farmers to increase potato production in the state, has turned out to be damp squib with the hapless farmers up in arms against the government for its alleged double standards.
Sources said the farmers are now in a fix as NAFED and MARKFED, the two agencies engaged by the state government to procure potato from the farmers, have refused outright to procure potato of the size of less than 29 millimetres.
The farmers have alleged that the state government, which had encouraged them to take up potato cultivation in a big way, had never thought of the sale and conservation of their produce and paying them the legitimate price for their produce. As a result, they are now forced to distress sell their produce and sustain heavy losses in the process.
The state government, following the agitation by the potato farmers, had decided to procure 4000 metric tonnes of potato from them for which it had engaged MARKFED and NAFED.
However, the government, which had decided to procure potato at Rs 600 per quintal from the farmers, made a condition that it would procure potatoes only of the size of 29 mm or more.
As a result, both NAFED and MARKFED did not procure potato as 60 percent of the produce was less than the size of 29 mm.
“How we are responsible for it? The size of the potato depends on the quality of the seeds provided by the state government to us. If the government says it would procure larger potatoes, then who will take the smaller ones?” asked the farmers.
As per available information, the state government, out of a targeted procurement of 4000 metric tonnes of potato, has procured only 465 metric tonnes till date.