Bengala Occidental: Potato drives a price wedge between 2 major producers
Kolkata: The two leading potato producers in the country — Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — are witnessing two very different trends in prices. While potato retailing rates have appreciated by 5-6 per cent in West Bengal over the past fortnight.
UP, the largest producer of the tuber, is facing a production glut, while West Bengal, the second largest, has witnessed a shrinkage in crop size.
The eastern state is also getting trade queries from places such as Hassan, Belgaum and Chikkamagaluru in Karnataka, where the new potato crop has been damaged due to heavy rains. The potato trade in West Bengal had anticipated a crop of 110-115 lakh tonnes this year due to favourable weather conditions during cultivation in January. But heavy rains in February had affected the crop, bringing down output to 95 lakh tonnes.
“During the June–July period, prices had fallen. But in the last fortnight, prices have started moving up and there has been good offloading from the cold storages,” said Patit Paban De, former president of West Bengal Cold Storage Association.
“In the upcoming festive season, we expect prices to move up by another 10 per cent. Also, demand is coming in from potato producing areas in south India where the new crop has been affected due to heavy rains recently.”
Farmers in West Bengal have also gained from this price rise. They are now getting Rs 480-500 per quintal for average quality crop. Better quality crop is fetching Rs 540-550 per quintal.
But the trade in Uttar Pradesh has not been as lucky as in West Bengal. Production glut still continues to be a major concern for traders and farmers alike. “With two months left for the new season of cultivation, we have huge crop left in the cold storages,” said Arvind Agarwal, secretary of Cold Storage Associations of Uttar Pradesh.
“Only 30-35 per cent of the crop loaded in the cold storages during the beginning of the new season has been offloaded. The rest is still in cold storages. Prices have fallen 11 per cent in the past 7-10 days,” Agarwal added.
Uttar Pradesh produced 155 lakh tonnes of potatoes this year. Of this, 115 lakh tonnes were loaded in the cold storages.