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Friday, October 8, 2010

250-tonne potato-seeds rot-away and need quick disposal in Palamu

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Though the state government boasts of providing potato seeds to farmers at a highly subsidised rate (Rs. 7.13 per kilo) compared to the market price (Rs.29 per kilo), there is hardly any subsidised potato seed left for the Palamu farmers.2, 500 quintals of potato seeds out of 3,380 quintals sent to the District Agriculture Office for a subsidised sale among potato farmers, have rotten completely” - reports the Hindustan Times in its October 8, 2010 issue for Jharkhand.

The paper reports that farmers are not confident to buy even the remaining good seeds. The Agriculture Department is now of the opinion that these seeds have currently become unfit for sowing due to fungal attacks on them. It is reported that the potato seeds were brought from Haryana Potato Seeds Corporation Limited between September 10 and 21. According to the Agriculture Department sources the potato seeds have arrived at a wrong time and farers of the area do not purchase potato seeds in September.

Here, it is important to note that potato seeds are usually sown in Hathiya Nakshatra which falls sometime in October month. The potatoes that came from Haryana between 10 and 21 September have been left uncared as they had come. Potato can not be left in sacs for longer periods and they need refrigeration. There is no cold storage in DaltonGanj (Palamu). Farmers on the other hand did not buy potato seeds in September as they did not have any storage facility with them. They could not sow potatoes in September either, as potatoes can not be sown in wet soil. In September month fields remain wet due to “intermittent and sporadic rains”. Left in the open uncared and unmanaged, all the potatoes got rotten and the Agriculture Department is worried for their safe disposal in some outskirt area by means of tractors. Thus the whole government money is ready to flow through drains.

Jharkhand is a good producer of vegetables. Most of the income of farmers of this area comes through selling vegetables. For this reason farmers here remain alert to grow vegetables round the year. Some vegetables that are not seen in other states in off seasons are available in Jharkhand in that season. They know proper methodology and remain active with the changing moods of seasons that are how they become able to carry on their living very honestly, laboriously, and skillfully. Thus, farmers of Palamu could not take risk on their economy, and hence did not purchase potato seeds before the correct time as it was sure to bring them losses even on Govern subsidies.

The news paper notes- “It seems that the state government did not take note of the Supreme Court’s order to distribute food grains among the poor to save it from being declared unfit for human consumption, otherwise they could not let 2,500 quintals of potatoes rot in a poverty stricken area like Palamu.”

It is right here that everyone including any government must obey the order of Hon’ble Supreme Court. But the order of the Supreme Court, I think, was for food grains and not for the Potato-seeds brought from Haryana to Dalton Ganj to sell to farmers on subsidised rates for growing and raising production.

The Agriculture Department, I think has no right to distribute anything on its own, to farmers may they be of Palamu or Punjab. What the department could do was to sell those potatoes as per the directions of the government. I think that the Public Distribution is handled by some other government body, and the order of the court should relate to the same system for the distribution of food-grains left undistributed in the stock. The potato seeds brought from Haryana for selling to farmers on subsidised rates, could not be distributed free to farmers.

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