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Punjab intervenes to bail out potato growers

Chandigarh, Feb 24: With potato prices going down, the Punjab government on Friday directed agriculture marketing agencies under it to intervene immediately and bail out potato growers in the state who were suffering heavy losses. “The Punjab government has directed the Punjab Agro and Markfed to effectively intervene in the market on ‘no profit no loss’ basis to bail out the potato growers from the current crisis, besides realising better prices to them,” a spokesman said here on Friday. Chairing an emergency meeting to take stock of the prevailing situation here, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal decided to reduce the Market Fee and Rural Development Fee (RDF) on potatoes from 2 per cent to 0.25 per cent.

Badal also decided to slash the rates of commission charged by the commission agents from 5 to 1 per cent with immediate effect. Potato is grown mainly in Punjab’s Doaba belt, the land between Beas and Sutlej rivers, comprising Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and wanshahr districts.

The Chief Minister asked the Punjab Agro and Markfed to explore the feasibility of export potential of potatoes to Russia, Dubai, Iran, Sri Lanka and other countries. He said that the state government would subsidise the freight for such exports. “Apart from this, the agriculture department had also been directed to undertake distant marketing of potatoes in the other parts of the country to ensure better prices to the growers,” the spokesman said.

Badal asked the agriculture department to ensure ratiol utilisation of storing capacity of cold stores across the state to curb the malpractice of hoarding in cold storage space. “It was decided to issue an advisory to the department of education and jails and other government institutions for optimum utilisation of potatoes in the mid-day meal scheme and for the consumption by jail inmates for rich nourishment, which would also boost the sale of potatoes in the state,” the spokesman added. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita