Agra is the primary producer of potatoes in the country. Potatoes cultivated in around 72,000 hectares are in the Agra division which includes Agra, Mathura, Mainpuri, and Firozabad.
When the farmers of Agra did not turn up to take their potato products from cold storages for sale, the store owners took out the potato production as the produce started to rot. They started dumping them on the roadsides of Agra for stray cattle and the poor to feed on. The amount of the dumped potato is reported to be 2.5 lakh tonnes in Agra district alone.
According to the sources of The Times Of India, the wholesale price of potatoes dropped to Rs 10 for a sack of 50 kg potatoes, which is 20 paise per kg. In July, these same tubers were being sold for Rs 400 per sack.
Moreover, to take the potatoes from the cold storage, farmers have to pay a rent of Rs 110. Considering the low price of potatoes, farmers did not turn up to take their potato production for the big sale.
Around 240 of the cold storages in Agra have switched off their preservation machines because of the electrical expenses which have resulted in wastage of potatoes.
As reported by ANI, Harendra Kumar, Agra’s cold storage manager said, “Farmers are not coming to take their potato production as demand is less and stock is bumper. We have to clear old stock as the new season is coming and repair works need to be done in the facilities. The situation is not good for farmers.”
As reported by The Times Of India, President of Agra Cold Storage Association Sudarshan Agarwal said, “The period for storage is over. Even after several days of delay, farmers are not coming to take their stored potatoes, because of the meager market rate prevailing at present. The produce can’t be preserved any longer, and we have no other options apart from dumping them. Cleaning and repairing works are required to be started in the units for agricultural produce in the coming season.”
Aamir Bhai, the general secretary of Potato Producers Association, said, “It is estimated that around 50 lakh sacks of 50 kg each, totaling 2.5 lakh tonnes of potatoes, are kept in cold storages of Agra district alone. Farmers can’t afford to pay storage rates or transport produce to the markets, so we can’t take the produce away. Farmers have suffered a massive loss because of this.”
The The Times Of India also talked to the Deputy Director of Horticulture, Dr Kaushal Kumar who said, “Strict action will be taken against those dumping potatoes in open areas. There are rules and regulations for disposal of potatoes. They are to be dumped in pits and covered properly. We are sending a proposal to the district administration for the constitution of a monitoring committee for safe disposal of the produce. The committee will include officials of Agra Municipal Corporation, Pollution Control board, departments of animal husbandry, agriculture, and horticulture as well as representatives of the district administration.
Doctors have made a statement saying that eating rotten potatoes is harmful not only to humans but also for animals, as it can cause fungal infection. Also, the air is polluted by decaying potatoes that can cause severe respiratory problems.
Photographer: Ranbir Singh