Floods in several states send potato prices up 3% in 14 days

Economy


KOLKATA: The prices of potato have increased 3% in the past fortnight owing to floods in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. As a result, potato traders and farmers in Uttar Pradesh, the largest producer of the crop in the country, who were worried about surplus stock a month ago, are now confident of offloading the entire stock by November before the new crop arrives.

The state has produced 15.5 million tonnes of potatoes this year. Of this, 11.5 million tonnes were loaded in cold storages and the rest sold directly by farmers at the farm-gate level.

“In the initial months, the offtake from cold storages was not up to the mark and prices had fallen. Only 30-35% of the crop from cold storages was used and there was a fear of another year of production glut,” said Arvind Agarwal, secretary of Cold Storage Associations of Uttar Pradesh.

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“But the floods in central India, Maharashtra, eastern UP and more recently Bihar, have resulted in higher consumption of potatoes. This is because vegetables got damaged and people had to depend on potatoes for their daily cooking,” he said.

This month, 50-55% of the potatoes stored in cold storages across Uttar Pradesh were used for consumption. “Of the remaining stock, nearly 20% will be used for seed purpose and the rest will be used in October-November. We are confident that there will be hardly any stock before the new crop arrives in the market,” said Agarwal.

This has helped lift sentiment among potato traders and farmers of the state. “We do not expect prices to move up significantly from this level. Our main concern is to clear the stocks before the new crop arrives in the market,” said Agarwal.

Prices of potato in West Bengal, the second largest producer of the crop, have not fallen though because rains in February had damaged a portion of the crop. The state has produced 9.5-10 million tonnes of potatoes this year, 1-1.5 million tonnes less than it did last year.

“Prices had fallen in June-July period but started moving up since the beginning of September… And in one week they have moved up 3%. The festive season demand is expected to be good and prices may move up during that time,” said Patit Paban De, former president of West Bengal Cold Storage Association.



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