Chandigarh, February 2: In a bid to help the state’s distressed potato farmers, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered release of Rs 5 crore for providing freight subsidy to the producers for marketing their crop out of Punjab.

Announcing a series of measures to support the potato farmers, the Chief Minister has directed the Department of Agriculture to take all possible steps to help the potato growers in realizing better prices of their crop. He has also ordered the concerned department to initiate steps for export of potato crop, with the help of the freight subsidy which his government would be releasing to the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation.

The Chief Minister, who has already asked the departments of school education and jails to purchase potatoes directly from the farmers for use in preparing mid-day meals and Anganvadi meals respectively, expressed concern over the plight of the potato growers, who were also suffering as a result of the Centre’s failure to help out the farming community.

Potatoes are grown on about one lakhs hectares in Punjab with a total production of 25 lakh tones every year. However, the potato farmers are facing problems due to subdued prices of the produce for the last three years.

The Chief Minister has also sought the support of the industry in helping the potato growers and, according to Viswajeet Khanna, Additional Chief Secretary Development, two potato processing plants, viz Iscon Balaji Foods Ltd and Godrej Tyson Foods Ltd, shall soon start processing of potatoes, with a target of processing about 35000 tonnes of potatoes in this season.