At Barabanki's Mohamadabad village, about 45 kilometres from state capital Lucknow, Krishan Kumar Verma, a marginal farmer, says it takes him Rs 8 to produce a kilo of potatoes. "This includes the costs of seeds, labour, sowing, irrigation, harvesting, transportation and storage," he says. But at the vegetable mandi in Barabanki town, the older crop is going for at Rs 1-2 per kilo. The newly-reaped variety is selling at Rs 3-5 a kilo, says Irshad Ahmed, a potato trader.
With demand falling for last year's crop, farmers are unwilling to take out their produce stacked in cold storages. Lifting it would mean paying the storage rent, normally Rs 2.50 for a 50-kilo sack, compounding their losses. To make way for the fresh produce, a cold storage is Etawah district has thrown away nearly a quarter of the potatoes it stored.
Last Saturday, potatoes were found dumped on prominent roads across Lucknow, including outside the state assembly and the road that leads to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's official residence. Those who did this are yet to be identified but the act reflects the desperation of farmers in a state that produces 35 per cent of potatoes in India.
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