Sharmili Mallick

The fate of a large number of potato growers in Odisha’s Kendrapara district is now hanging in balance as the local administration is yet to provide them subsidised seeds for cultivation.

Most of the farmers of at least nine blocks of the district have readied their land for sowing. However, there have been severe complaints about the scarcity of seeds in the region. The farmers have alleged that due to the unavailability of subsidised seeds, they have been forced to buy seeds at high rates from private distributors while many were compelled to leave potato cultivation this year.

Meanwhile, those still planning for potato farming have raised concerns about profitable output due to delay in sowing.

“We have readied the land and waiting for the seeds. Potato is our main cultivation as we depend on it for our livelihood the entire year. So, we have to sow it as soon as possible. However, I am not sure if the harvest will be profitable as it's already late. The government should find a way out so that we get the seeds and fertilisers soon,” rued a farmer, Harinarayan Nayak.

Another farmer, Shibasundar Jena alleged, “There is a scarcity of seeds due to which the prices are high. The sowing season had begun but we have not received the subsidised seeds yet. If we buy seeds from the private market, it will be costly for us.”

As per government data, potatoes are raised in around 1,000 hectares of land in the district every year. This year, potatoes will be grown in only 110 hectares for which the farmers need 15,000 quintal of seeds per hectare.

But the Horticulture Department has not provided seeds to farmers yet. At the same time, the concerned department has assured the farmers that seeds will reach by November 15.

Assistant Horticulture Officer in Kendrapara, Subhashree Kar informed, “The seeds are expected to reach the district by November 15. Potatoes are sowed in mid-November. The beneficiary farmers have readied their land for cultivation. As soon as the seeds reach, it will be disbursed.”

On the other hand, as the prices of seeds in private markets have gone up because of shortage amid high demand and poor crop last year, the scarcity and increased rates of fertilizers have also raised concerns among the potato growers in Kendrapara.

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