Hetauda, June 6, 2016:Â Potato output has shrunk by up to 40 percent in the northern region of Makwanpur district due to drought. The dry spell that lasted from April and May led to a sharp drop in the production of the popular vegetable.
Madhusudhan Acharya, agricultural technician at the Agriculture Service Office, Daman, said harvests on irrigated land were down 12 percent while non-irrigated land saw a steep drop of 40 percent.
Thaha Municipality and Tistung, Chitlang, Markhu, Kulekhani and Agra are among the village development committees where potato is cultivated on a large scale.
The main source of income for farmers in the district is potato, and the decrease in production has hit their earnings. â€œThe production has decreased because of the drought in April-Mayâ€ said Ghanshyam Amatya, a local farmer. Rajkumar Bista of Dandagaun said that despite good sales in the market, lower production had hit farmers hard.
Potato farmers had been expecting to rebuild their homes destroyed by the earthquake last year with money from their potato crops and government grants. But a drop in production has put their plans in doubt.
They feel that the relief amount of Rs200,000 promised by the government is not enough to rebuild their houses. In the absence of a cold store, farmers have to sell their potatoes right after they are harvested which has prevented them from getting good prices.
The price of white potato is Rs25-30 per kg in Thaha Municipality while white potato costs Rs20-25 per kg. â€œThough there is not much change in the price of potato, output has fallen behind last yearâ€™s figure,â€ said potato retailer Ram Krishna Basnet.
Sanobhai Karki, the principal of a local higher secondary school, said farmers had been selling their potato harvests at low prices and they were forced to buy seeds at high prices.
â€œAlthough they can get good prices after September, they cannot keep their potatoes till that time because there is no cold store,â€ said Karki.