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Note-ban continues hurting Indian potato farmers as production falls another 30%

The potato farmers of Lahaul-Spiti, Himachal Pradesh in India, suffered massively this year as its production further dwindled by 30 percent while they fetched Rs 900 (USD $13.83) per 100g compared to last year in 2016. 

The farmers and traders attributed the slump in prices and production to the note-ban, GST and its overproduction in other states.

The profit margins of potato farmers continued to drop over the years as the states like Punjab, West Bengal and Gujarat, which used to be the main buyer of Lahaul’s disease-free seed potato, are experiencing bumper crop every year.

According to the farmers, most of the potatoes produced in Lahaul-Spiti are being consumed in Himachal only now. “No buyers from outside came this year in Manali and Lahaul as they felt cash crunch due to the note-ban. The GST hit the trade further,” said Kamal Azad, president, Lahaul Potato Society (LPS), one of the largest primary societies in the state. 

The farmers rued that they suffered huge losses as the prices fell from Rs 2300 per 100g in 2016 to Rs 1300 per 100g this year. They had sold the same bag for Rs 1500 to Rs 1800 at farm gate in 2016. The retailers, however, are selling close to Rs 30 per kg to consumers, the farmers said. 

Mr Azad said potato production dropped by 30 per cent this year from about 1.30 lakh bags (50 kg bag) in 2016 to 90,000 bags this year.

“We procured 35000 bags, while rest was bought by the Manali-based local traders. Most of produce is being sold in local markets in Himachal as no traders from West Bengal and Gujarat turned up for buying potato here,” he added.

1 Indian Rupee = 0.015 US Dollar

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