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India - Bengal's potato farmers apprehend losses following rains

The recent rains in West Bengal have put potato growers in a quandary as their crop is expected to suffer extensive damage despite bumper projections made earlier.

The state government had offered a support price of Rs 550 crore for buying 10 lakh tonne potato to avert distress sale.

“Farmers are worried because widespread potato damage have been projected as a result of heavy rainfall across the state earlier this week,” a state government official said.

The MeT office predicted more rain in Gangetic Bengal from Monday and this has made the potato farmers across the state more anxious, the official said.

“The state government is taking all steps to sensitise the farmers about promptly informing the insurance companies about the projected crop loss, in order to get their claims,” the agricultural advisor to the chief minister, Pradip Kr Mazumdar, told.

According to norms, the farmers need to intimate the insurance companies individually, Mazumdar said.

“We have already apprised the insurance companies about the situation. A farmer has to inform the insurance company within 72 hours of any possible threat of damage to the crop,” he said.

About 5 lakh potato farmers are covered under the crop insurance programme, he said.

The state government had offered free crop insurance to farmers after subsidising the farmers’ share of the premium.

The government will try to maximise the insurance claim for the farmers.

In case the state does not have to buy potatoes, in case the crop is damaged due to the rains, the state will not have to shell out the Rs 550 crore earmarked for procuring the crop, sources said.

The actual burden on the state exchequer was supposed to be Rs 650 crore since an additional cost of Rs 100 crore was estimated for collection, storage and marketing the potatoes that were supposed to be procured by the state, sources said.

According to the estimates, vast areas where potato cultivation took place, are yet to be harvested in districts such as West Midnapur, East Burdwan, Hooghly, Coochbehar Bankura and Jalpaiguri.

Source – https://www.business-standard.com

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