Potato prices in West Bengal have currently dropped by around 30 per cent compared with the November-end last year due to lack of export opportunities and early arrival of fresh produce from Jharkhand.
Facing supply glut and lower prices in markets, potato growers from the state were earlier exporting the tuber to Bangladesh. However, currently there is no demand for potato imports in the neighbouring country as newly harvested potatoes have started to flood the markets.
“The newly-harvested potatoes arrived in the markets of Bangladesh. Now, there is no demand from there. So, potatoes are not being exported at present,” Kamal Dey, member of State Agriculture Marketing Task Force, told businessline.
“Moreover, potatoes from Ranchi have arrived in West Bengal. This year, it has come a bit early. This has caused the prices to crash,” Dey said.
Running out of options
At Sealdah’s Koley market in Kolkata, wholesale prices of Jyoti potato variety are currently hovering around Rs 14 per kg, which are significantly lower compared with the year-ago period. Wholesale prices of Jyoti variety were around ₹20 per kg during November-end last year.
“Farmers now have no option but to sell at a very low price. They are staring at massive losses,” Dey added.
The State government has no controls over the market prices of Jyoti variety, which is widely used. It is also a high yielding variety of the tuber.
Potato prices in West Bengal are expected to fall further due to the arrival of fresh produce from Punjab soon. Bengal’s own Pukhraj potato is likely to arrive in the third week of December.
During 2022-23, potatoes were cultivated in around 4.60 lakh hectares in West Bengal, the country’s second largest potato-growing State, and total production of the tuber was around 100 lakh tonnes, higher than 2021-22.
Notably, potato prices had 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 ₹650 per quintal in March.