Chandigarh, Feb 2 (PTI) The Punjab government on Saturday decided to release Rs 5 crore for providing freight subsidy to distressed potato growers to enable them sell crop out of the state.

The announcement in this regard was made by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here, an official release said.

Announcing a series of measures to support potato farmers, the chief minister directed the agriculture department to take all possible steps to help potato growers in realising better prices of their crop.

He 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 has already asked the departments of school education and jails to purchase potatoes directly from farmers for use in preparing mid-day meals and Anganvadi meals respectively. He also blamed the Centre for not helping out the farming community.

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

Farmers claimed that they were facing acute financial crisis as due to glut output of tuber, they were not able to cover even the cost of production.

The Chief Minister has also sought the support of the industry in helping the potato growers. According to Viswajeet Khanna, Additional Chief Secretary Development, two potato processing plants, Iscon Balaji Foods Ltd and Godrej Tyson Foods Ltd, shall soon start processing of potatoes, with a target of processing about 35,000 tonnes of crop in this season.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.