Steep fall in potato price hits farmers

- PRATAP BISTA, MAKWANPUR

Mar 26, 2017-

Farmers in Aambhanjhyang, Makwanpur, have started storing potatoes in their houses after prices of the agricultural product plunged following hike in imports of cheap produce from India.

Farmers like Bacchuram Sapkota of Dumrekuna and Tika Dahal of Aambhanjyang have kept more than hundred quintals of potatoes under their beds, in the kitchen and in verandas, as they could not even recover the production cost by selling their produce in the market.

The price of potatoes in Makwanpur has dropped to Rs10 per kg. 

“At that price, I cannot even recoup wages extended to labourers and cost that has gone into purchasing fertilisers,” Sapkota, who has stored 150 quintals of 

potatoes at his house, said, lamenting, “Prices of almost every good have gone up, but farmers like us never get good returns for agricultural products we produce.”

Makwanpur grows an estimated 73,758 tonnes (74 million kg) of potatoes per year on 49,036 hectares (490 million sq metres) of land, according to the District Agricultural Development Office (DADO).

Of these potatoes, 51,170 tonnes are harvested in winter and 22,588 tonnes in monsoon. 

“Potatoes harvested in monsoon can be sold at higher prices. In contrast, potatoes grown in winter have to be sold at lower prices because of hike in inflow of cheap potatoes from India,” Makwanpur DADO Chief Nirmal Gadal said.

Farmers of Aambhanjhya-ng are increasingly getting worried by this trend of potato prices taking a dip during winter. This is because farmers of this village harvest a big chunk of potatoes during winter. 

If farmers here do not get a fair price for potatoes grown in winter, chances of them moving to other vegetables or crops cannot be ruled out.

Already, farmers in Aambhanjhyang have started using their farmlands to 

grow pumpkins and cucumbers, rather than potatoes. Others may soon join the bandwagon.

“Currently, farmers here are feeling uneasy,” said Makwanpur DADO Official Kashiraj Hamal. “Since it is difficult for them to store potatoes, they are compelled to sell at low prices.”

Some of the famous agricultural products of Aambhnajyang are vegetables and milk. The village grows vegetables of around Rs120 million every year. Most of the agricultural products produced in the village are sold in Hetauda. 

One of the special features of agricultural products grown in Aambhnajyang is that they are organic. The farmers here use homemade worm casting manures and biological fertilisers. Makwanpur DADO is mulling over making Aambhanjyang 

a hub for organic vegetable production. 

Published: 26-03-2017 10:16

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