Potato bears the brunt of cold wave

The intense cold wave in Punjab has resulted in the potato crop not growing over the past several days. The size of the crop, which must increase every day before harvesting begins around January 20, has not increased even one per cent, according to farmers. With this, there is now a fear lower production of potatoes this year.

Following three bumper crops in a row and no demand from states, this year, area under potato cultivation was decreased by around 15 per cent.

"For around 20 days now, owing to extreme cold wave and no sun, the size of the potatoes has not increased even by one per cent. If such conditions continue for a few more days, farmers would not be able to harvest more then 50 quintal crop from a field of one acre against the average yield of 80 quintal per acre," said Jaswinder Singh Sangha, General Secretary of Jalandhar Potato Growers Association (JPGA). He added: "If the size does not increase, we will not able to recover production cost, which has increased manifold with hike in the rates of fertilisers."

Mandeep Singh, a potato grower from Nakodar, said: "I have been growing potato for the several years now. But this season, for the first time, I have seen no increase in the size of the crop for so long. I could not fetch more than 50 quintals of potato from one acre, which is around 35 per cent less when compared to normal yield."

"Earlier, bumper crops were our enemies and we faced huge losses. Now, with such cold conditions, the situation is hardly different," said Hardev Singh, a farmer.

When contacted, Horticulture Development Officer Dr Daljeet Singh said the size of potato gets affected due to lack of photosynthesis. "Now, the sun has started appearing and we hope that the size will increase to the expected level before harvesting," he added.

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