Potato prices jump by 25% due to crop damage, frequent hailstorms


India's potato production has increased from 43.4 million tonnes to 48.2 million tonnes in the current year, which is 11.1 per cent higher than the previous year, the agriculture ministry has said.

Potato prices have jumped by 25 per cent in a month due to crop damage and frequent hailstorms in major cultivating regions. The price currently stands at double than its quote around the same time last year, reports Business Standard.

The data compiled by the Nashik-based National Horticultural Research & Development Foundation showed model potato price at Rs 14 a kg in the benchmark Asansol wholesale mandi in West Bengal. Prices there had slumped to the season’s low of Rs 11.20 a kg on February 14 on increased arrivals of new season crop. Wholesale prices are expected to go up further to Rs 22, which means Rs 40 a kg in retail market.

Farmers reported a massive crop damage in transit in addition to huge quantity of the potato left unharvested due to mud in the field.

“At least 30-40 per cent potato got damaged this year due to hailstorms, which pushed its prices up in both wholesale and retail markets. With the harvesting of the current season crop completed, arrivals have started declining steadily. Further increase in potato price is likely,” said Pravir Kumar Bera, managing partner, Agrive Exports & Imports, a Kolkata-based potato wholesaler and exporter to Business Standard.

West Bengal contributes nearly 25 per cent (11-11.5 million tonnes) of India’s overall potato output and stands second after Uttar Pradesh (nearly 30 per cent). Potato arrivals have declined in the Asansol mandi to 36 tonnes now, as against 50 tonnes about a month ago. The same case of price and arrivals prevails for potato across all major mandis in India.

Meanwhile, farmers are delaying release of their stock in anticipation of further price rise. In Indore, where potato harvesting is expected to continue for another two-three weeks, farmers are storing the produce in their godowns amid expectation of further increase in its prices.

Farmers anticipate further price rise. While a huge quantity of potato is coming into cold storages, farmers and stockists want to delay its sale for higher realisation later. Traders expect potato prices to jump to Rs 22-25 a kg in wholesale mandis in the next few weeks, which will translate to Rs 40 a kg for consumers.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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