By A Newsman
Malda, 29 March: FRUSTRATED over abysmally low price that they are getting and a corresponding lack of government support, farmers in Malda district today burned potato in the field to register their protest.
The incident took place at Rukundipur village under Ratua-I development block in Malda.
The farmers said that they were getting Rs 2.5 for a kilo of potato in the wholesale market and this makes it around Rs 9,500 for potato grown on a bigha of land. As against this, the cost of cultivating potato per bigha land is around Rs 17,000.
This is happening because of a bumper potato harvest in all over Bengal this season and a corresponding lack of demand from states like Assam, Odisha, and Bihar that traditionally imports the crop from Bengal.
On top of this, the absence of adequate cold storage facilities in Malda has turned the situation worse, as the farmers are unable to store their harvest for selling them later when the market perks up.
Considering the grave situation, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on 14 March announced that the state government would buy 28,000 metric tons of potato at a support price of Rs 4.60 per kg directly from the farmers. But despite the lapse of a fortnight, the announcement is yet to get implemented.
Thus, in view of the huge losses that they were incurring, the farmers at Rukundipur village in Malda today burned heaps of potatoes right on the field where they had grown them.
Earlier on 23 March, a potato farmer had committed suicide at Paharhati village in Burdwan over distress selling.