Mumbai: After onion growers, the potato cultivators in Maharashtra are in big trouble because of crop damage due to heavy rains and humidity. Potatoes ploughed in the area cover 11,000 acre alone on the Satgaon plateau, Ambegaon taluka in Pune district is expected to perish if it continues to rain further. Farmers fear that out of a total estimated production of 50,000 tonne, so far 60 to 65 per cent crop has already been damaged.
The farmers had ploughed potato seeds in June and were expecting the produce now. The potatoes produced on the Satgaon plateau are used for the production of wafers under contract farming and they are not used for day to day cooking purposes. Further, the higher cost of production is another negative factor which has increased their woes.
Santosh Dhumal, who is a former sarpanch and potato producer, told Free Press Journal, “Satgaon plateau is famous for potato production exclusively used for manufacturing of wafers. The company provides high quality seeds and farmers get assured price for the potatoes. Due to the ongoing rains and humidity, potatoes worth Rs 40 crore as on date are damaged. Farmers expect loss for the remaining crop too.’’ He further said even if farmers plan to sell these potatoes in the open market to avoid further damage there will not be any takers. He said currently potatoes stored in storages or arriving from other states are supplied in the retail market for day to day consumption. The next arrival is expected after mid-October from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
Dhumal said the state government and the companies need to provide insurance cover to the potato growers to tackle the damage caused due to natural calamities.