CHANDIGARH: Potato prices have spiked around 50% in Uttar Pradesh, the largest tuber producing state in India, as abnormally high rains this month have damaged crops and affected harvesting in the country. Prices are gaining in other states as well, as traders anticipate lower-than-expected output in India, the largest potato producing country after China.

Farmers are selling their produce of tuber at more than double rates compared to last year when prices had crashed by this time of season.

The wholesale prices of potato have soared to Rs 14-15 per kilogram in Uttar Pradesh this week after it had mellowed down to Rs 9-10 at the beginning of March. Prices have also picked up this week in West Bengal, the second largest potato producing state, because of demand from buyers of other states who are trying to bridge a shortfall in their areas.

“Buyers from states including Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh are proactive in North Bengal as they anticipate a fall in local production,” said Patit Paban De, a former president of the West Bengal Cold Storage Association. He said prices were firming up in West Bengal after they had mellowed to Rs 11-12 per kg.

According to data from central government portal Agmarknet, potato prices have increased to Rs 12-13 per kg at Hooghly and Sheoraphully mandis in West Bengal this week from Rs 10 in the first week in March. Prices at Etwah and Meerut in UP have increased to Rs 13-15 per kg on Monday from Rs 9 at the start of the month. At Keda and Ahmadabad in Gujarat, potato has become costlier by Rs 1-2 a kg at Rs 11-12. In Madhya Pradesh, it now costs Rs 11-12 in wholesale, compared with Rs 9 earlier.

This year, the prices had begun rising in February after the yields turned out to be lower than expected in major potato growing states including UP. Pushed by the suspected shortfall in output and the need to stock up for the months ahead, cold-store owners and traders have paid twice the rates compared with the previous year to producers.

In West Bengal, cold-store owners anticipate stocks for storage would be less than last year as the prevailing rates are high due to demand from other states. They expect to meet only 80% of capacity, De said. Earlier, stocks for storage were expected to surpass 85%.

The tuber season this year was distorted by heavy rains since the beginning of the rabi season. Inclement weather had pushed up the prices in the potato market since October, though those had subdued during a brief period in January.

“The crop has been damaged in many pockets and harvest has been less than expected in known hubs of potato in UP,” Cold Storage Association of Uttar Pradesh secretary Arvind Agarwal said. Stocks in cold store are likely to be 10% lower than the last year, he added.

The potato season in India undergoes the annual stocking period from the last week of February till the first week of April. “Retail potato prices are likely to remain firm for the entire summer season ahead as wholesale prices have been strong throughput the harvesting season,” Agarwal said.

Source Article