Kolkata, Nov 6

Facing a supply glut and lower prices in the markets, potato growers from West Bengal have started exporting the tuber to neighbouring Bangladesh.

“It is getting difficult to sell the potato stock that the state currently has. Farmers are not getting the prices they want due to over-supply. So, some big farmers have started exporting to Bangladesh,” Kamal Dey, member of the state agriculture marketing task force, told businessline.

At Sealdah’s Koley market in Kolkata, wholesale prices of the Jyoti potato variety hover around Rs 15-16 per kg, which is lower than that quoted in the same period last year. The state government has control over market prices of the widely used Jyoti variety, which is also a high-yielding variety of the tuber.

Also read: Potato prices in WB has firmed up by ₹2-3/kg due to weather conditions

Potatoes from Ranchi have already arrived in the West Bengal markets, and supplies from Punjab are likely to arrive from early December. Moreover, Bengal’s early varieties of potato like Pukhraj, are expected to hit the markets from the third week of December.

“After the arrival of fresh produce, people do not want to buy old stocks. That is why potatoes are being exported to Bangladesh for a few days. Without exports, growers with old stock, would face a difficult situation,” Dey said, adding last year West Bengal had exported a very small quantity to the neighbouring country. Dey is also the president of the West Bengal vegetable growers and vendors’ association.

During 2022-23, potato was cultivated in around 4.60 lakh hectaresin West Bengal, the country’s second largest potato-growing state, and total production was around 100 lakh tonnes, which was higher than that in 2021-22.

“The current prices are significantly lower than that of the last year. It is difficult to predict whether prices would remain in this range. Potato arrivals from Uttar Pradesh can change many things,” said Patit Paban De, a senior member of the West Bengal Cold Storage Association. Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer in the country.

Full scale sowing of potatoes generally starts from mid-November in Bengal, while the crop is harvested the following January. For 2023-24, full scale sowing is expected to commence during the same period given that favourable weather conditions prevail.

“Sowing of some early varieties of potato was delayed due to the rains in September-October. Also, farmers were less interested due to low prices. Large-scale sowing will begin at the usual time. However, unseasonal rain may defer sowing operations,” De said.

“Selling of seed potatoes to farmers started in our region from October-end. We will start sowing after 7-8 days,” said Dilip Koley, a farmer at Haripal in Hooghly district. Hooghly, Bardhaman, Bankura, East Midnapore and West Midnapore are major potato growing districts.

“In our region, cultivation areas will remain the same this season. It will not increase,” Koley added.

Notably, potato prices crashed in February this year due to a bumper harvest, causing distress among sections of the farming community. Prices improved to an extent after the West Bengal government fixed a minimum procurement price (MPP) at Rs 650 per quintal in March.