Wholesale merchants in Karnataka have started selling their stock of over 30,500 tonnes of potato seeds brought from Punjab.

    Following heavy rains, farming activities have begun in parts of the Karnataka districts of Belur, Hassan, Arsikere taluks. Generally over 80 per cent of farmers opt for this gambling crop in the district.

    The total area of sowing may decrease this year too as the farmers have incurred heavy loss due to blight, a disease that been affecting potato crop for the last four years and dry wells due to last year’s drought.

    In the last couple of years, the total growing area has decreased to 25,000 hectares from 45,000 hectares, as many farmers have leased out their land to ginger growers from Kerala.

    The Horticulture Department is making efforts to provide certified potato seed and have directed farmers in rural areas to complete sowing by June 15 to get better yield.

    The wholesale merchants have been selling each quintal at `1,300, as the cost of transportation has increased. The district authority has strictly directed the merchants to use only electronic weighing machines to avoid fraud.

    Joint director of Agriculture Shivaraj said that the department had stocked 25,000 tonnes of fertilisers and steps would be taken to bring enough fertilisers to distribute through selected outlets.

    Assistant director for Horticulture Shakeel Ahmed said that the department had opened separate counters at the APMC yard to distribute pesticides to farmers at subsidised prices.