The humble potato, the staple vegetable in Indian kitchens, is rather pricey now, and its prices might not cool until fresh crop from Uttar Pradesh reaches the veg stalls from next month.
Until then, wholesale prices of the tuber could climb to Rs 40 per kg from Rs 34 due to availability constraints. Retailing rates will be anybody’s guess.
Potato traders from Uttar Pradesh, the largest producer of the crop, said that more than half of the cold storages in the state have offloaded their stocks in the market. Whatever is left will enter the market in next one week.
“By Diwali, wholesale prices of potatoes are expected to touch Rs 40 per kg. After Diwali, the new crop will slowly start arriving,” said Arvind Agarwal, president of UP Cold Storage Association. “Price correction will only happen in the first week of December, when there will be ample supply of potatoes.”
Prices of potato are following the same trend in West Bengal and Punjab, the two other major producers of the crop. High potato seed prices are also posing a problem to the potato farmers. Potato seed prices have doubled to Rs 50 per kg this year, a matter of concern to the farmers in Uttar Pradesh, even though the Yogi government is providing seeds to the farmers at a price of Rs 32 per kg.
Uttar Pradesh has produced around 12.4 million tonnes of potato this year as against 15.5 million tonnes in 2019, a drop of 20 percent.
Agarwal said the rise in prices has brought some cheer to farmers. “Farmers of Uttar Pradesh had suffered for four consecutive years due to glut in production. They had to sell the crop at a price lower than cost of production,” he added.
The high price that the farmers have got this year has prompted them to grow more potatoes this year. “It is expected that the acreage will be up by 5% – 10%,” Agarwal added.
In West Bengal, the second largest producer, prices have shot up to Rs 30 -34 per kg in the wholesale market from Rs 16-18 in May. Retail prices are ruling at Rs 38 a kg in the state. Prices in Punjab are similar.
Demand for potatoes had gone up this year following the announcement of lockdown as people started to purchase more potatoes since it can be stored for long.
Traders said that implementation of the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance has also pushed up the prices of the vegetable. The ordinance, which seeks to ensure a barrier-free trade in agriculture produce, came into force in June.
Patit Paban De, member of West Bengal Cold Storage Association, said that prices of potatoes in the state will start to soften once potatoes from UP start arriving in the market. “Prices at the wholesale level may fall below Rs 30 per kg,” he said.