Ban on sale to other States, release from cold storage cited as reasons

After ruling firm for almost five months starting February this year, potato prices in West Bengal is on a declining trend.

The State Government’s restriction on sale of potatoes to other States effective August 1, coupled with a pick up in the release of the tuber from cold storages across the State has helped bring down prices.

The recent ban on the launch of new Tarakeshwar potato contracts by the Forward Markets Commission (FMC) also helped in the easing of prices in the spot market, said Patit Paban De, member, West Bengal Cold Storage Association.

Wholesale prices of potato (Jyoti variety), which was ruling around Rs 1,250-1300 a quintal in end June and early July, has now softened to Rs 1,040-1,100 a quintal, De said.

Low Production

The rise in prices of the tuber during the first few months of this year was primarily on account of lower production. Potato production dropped to about 85 lakh tonne in 2011-12, against 95 lakh tonne last year.

“Farmers were also holding their stock in anticipation of further rise in prices. This led to 3-4 per cent lower release from cold storage as on end June,” De said.

However, now with the release of potatoes picking up, prices have started inching down, he added.

“Cold storages have released close to 47-48 per cent of total potatoes stored as on August 31, against about 46 per cent during an average year. This has helped bring down prices,” he said. The 403-odd cold storages in the State can hold about 58 lakh tonne of potatoes.

Futures market

Apart from banning the launch of new Tarkeshwar potato contracts, the FMC also ordered that effective August 1, no fresh positions would be allowed during the staggered delivery period in all running contracts of potato on MCX and NCDEX exchanges.

This brought down prices in the futures market thereby also softening spot prices.

Prices are likely to remain stable at these levels. “The potatoes produced in South India will come into the market by September and this will help keep prices stable around current levels,” De said.

shobha.roy@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 2, 2012)
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