India: Price of potato seed may increase this year
Less quantity of potato seed coupled with higher seed price this year is likely to impact the potato production and the farmers’ income in the country during rabi season , according to Samarendu Mohanty, Asia Regional Director, International Potato
Dr. Mohanty says compared to previous years potato seed storage is 30% less now while the seed price has more than doubled to ₹ 30 to ₹ 35 per kg compared to ₹ 12 to ₹ 14 in the last season. Expecting a further hike, seed producers are waiting to fix a higher price as the planting time approaches, he said. The reasons for lower storage of seed, he feels, is that farmers sold the potato right after the last harvest to take advantage of the high market price. Those who have stored in the cold storages are now selling it at a higher price and this is likely to increase further, says the Philippines-based scientist.
The current pandemic and the related fears have also led to a spike in potato prices – the highest in the last 10 years for July, he said citing the present market price ranging from ₹ 35 to ₹ 40 in several markets and the average price being ₹ 33 per kg. The price fluctuation, mostly towards the higher side, is likely to continue as the COVID-19 cases spike in the country and the prices are likely to remain high until the rabi harvest enters the market in December.
Dr. Samarendu also warns that higher price for potato doesn’t mean higher returns for farmers in the rabi season. He argues that spiralling prices will encourage the farmers to expand the cultivation area in the rabi season, investing hugely in the expensive seed. And this may lead to more production and fall in prices sometime.
Small and marginal farmers generally fail to hold on to the produce for a long time to escape from additional costs in storage. So they sell it at lower prices when the market is flooded. But he suggests a way out, asking the farmers to reduce the risk by going for early planting and choosing early-maturing varieties.
The climate of certain locations in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh is suitable for potato in September and farmers can plant at that time and harvest in December.