BUDGAM: Bumper production of potatoes in Kashmir Valley this year has resulted in 50 per cent fall in wholesale price of the vegetable, threatening losses to the farmers.
The last year, a quintal of locally-produced potatoes was selling for Rs 2,000 (or Rs 20/kg) in wholesale markets of the Valley. But this year the price has got reduced to half: the current wholesale price of potatoes is Rs 1,000 per quintal or Rs 10 per kilogram.
The reason, according to the growers and traders, is excessive production of the vegetable in central Kashmir’s Budgam district and elsewhere in the Valley.
“Many farmers who possess small holdings have got better produce this year. And with everyone trying to sell his excess produce in the local markets, the prices have fallen drastically,” Muhammad Shafi Dar, a farmer from Budgam’s Chadoora village, told Kashmir Reader.
Budgam district is the Valley’s major producer of vegetables.
With the demand for potatoes within and outside the Valley not growing proportionately, the farmers have started to fear losses.
“Marketing (the produce) is the major challenge for us. We are not being approached by local or nonlocal wholesalers and retailers, for the outside states like Punjab also have had a bumper crop,” Ghulam Qadir Bhat, a farmer from Wathoora, said. “Our surplus produce is rotting in the stores.”
Muhammad Sayeed Wani, a wholesaler at Srinagar, said the potatoes have been selling at lesser prices in Punjab and its adjoining states.
Farmers said the last year’s profits had convinced them to increase the sowing area and purchase more seeds for increased production.
“This year the tuber seeds were priced Rs 5,000 a quintal. Also, the rates of fertilisers and labour were higher than that of the last year. We made the investments, but now we are suffering losses,” a farmer said.
In terms of production, potato, as per the Agriculture department, is the state’s fourth non–cereal crop after rice, wheat, and maize. About 1,700 hectares are under potato cultivation in Kashmir Valley, mostly in the form of small holdings owned by farmers.
The average annual production of the vegetable in the region is 2.72 lakh quintals. The crop is sown in March and harvested in August.