Agri Business

10% increase likely in Bengal potato output this season

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on January 21, 2020

(From left) Pradip Kumar Majumdar, Chief Advisor (Agriculture) to the Chief Minister; Tarun Kanti Ghosh, President, West Bengal Cold Storage Association; and Tapan Dasgupta from the Department of Agriculture Marketing, West Bengal, at the 55th AGM of the Association, in Kolkata, on Tuesday Debasish Bhaduri

Potato production in West Bengal is expected to be up by around 10 per cent at close to 105 lakh tonne in 2020, compared with 90-92 lakh tonne in 2019.

According to Tarun Kanti Ghosh, President of West Bengal Cold Storage Association (WBCSA), in spite of delayed sowing of seeds and untimely rain, coupled with 2-3 per cent drop in area under cultivation, production is expected to be good becuse of favourable climatic conditions. He was addressing the 55th annual general meeting of WBCSA here on Tuesday.

However, a clearer picture on the exact quantum of production will only be available by early February when a majority of the harvesting is done. It is to be noted that in 2019, the State had witnessed a 3-4 per cent rise in sowing acreage and the productivity was also up by nearly 15-20 per cent due to favourable climatic conditions (at the time of sowing).

This was expected to translate into a 15 per cent rise in production, at around 120 lakh tonnes. However, untimely rains at the end of February and early March last year dragged down overall production to close to 92 lakh tonne.

Potato cultivation in Bengal is spread over close to 4.6 lakh hectares of land. Hooghly, Burdwan, Bankura, East Midnapore and West Midnapore are key potato growing districts.

Delayed sowing

Sowing of potato (early variety – Pokhraj) begins as early as end-October and harvesting of the crop starts by end-December. The sowing for later variety (the standard variant - Jyoti) begins a little later, sometime around second week of November and continues up to December. The harvesting of this crop usually begins by the second week of January.

However, sowing of early variety got delayed due to untimely rains, thereby delaying harvesting. The sowing of the later variety (Jyoti) also got delayed.

“Harvesting of early variety begins by December 20, but this time it could not be done due to untimely rains. Harvesting began only from January 7. Naturally, harvesting of the Jyoti potatoes have also got delayed,” said Patit Pavan De, member, WBCSA.

Infact, sowing has been delayed across major potato growing regions of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab this year due to unfavourable weather conditions.

UP, which is the largest producer of potato in the country with a total production of close to 140 lakh tonne, is expecting a 10 per cent decline in production this year, said Mahendra Swarup, President, Cold Storage Federation of Cold Storage Association, UP.

The UP crop, which usually comes in by November, arrived into the market only around end December or early January thereby shoring up price of the early variety (Pokhraj) crop in Bengal.

The wholesale price of Pokhraj is currently ruling at around ₹1,800-2,000 a quintal, as against ₹900-1,000 same time last year.

Published on January 21, 2020

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