Agri Business

Potato prices likely to soften on new arrivals from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh hit the market

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on November 13, 2020

Hard grind: Ad hoc policies have hit farmers hard   -  -

At present, the wholesale rates of the tuber have firmed up by almost 13 per cent to ₹3,400-3,500 a quintal.

Potato prices in West Bengal, which had been on an upward swing till now, is likely to witness some correction post-Diwali as arrivals from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh is expected to start picking up.

The wholesale price of the tuber, which was ruling at around ₹2,400-2,500 a quintal in early September, has firmed up by almost 13 per cent to ₹3,400-3,500 a quintal at present. The prices have increased by nearly 36 per cent on a year-on-year basis. The wholesale price of the standard variety (Jyoti) was hovering around ₹3000 a quintal in early November last year.

According to Patit Pavan De, Member, West Bengal Cold Storage Association, the market prices are ruling firm as arrivals from Punjab and UP is yet to gather steam. Once that starts, prices are expected to inch down a bit.

“Arrivals are likely to pick up post-Diwali around November 25, and when these potatoes start coming into the market then prices are expected to come down,” De told BusinessLine.

The retail prices of the common Jyoti variety are currently ruling at around ₹45 a kg, while the more premium Chandramukhi potatoes are fetching close to ₹48-50 a kg.

Cold storage release

Close to 43 lakh tonne of potatoes stored in cold storages have been released so far. Only around 21 per cent or approx 12 lakh tonne of the tuber is still left in the cold storage unit. The total loading in cold storages this year was close to 55 lakh tonne. There are around 400 cold storages in Bengal, and the full storage capacity is estimated to be close to 70 lakh tonne.

“The demand is steady, particularly from the neighbouring states of Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand. The steady demand has led to a good release from cold storages and has also kept prices firm so far,” he said.

A good crop expected

Potato production is estimated to be higher across the key growing areas of UP, Punjab and Bengal this year as there has been an increase in area under cultivation.

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 growing districts. There is estimated to be a five per cent increase in area under potato cultivation in Bengal this year as farmers have been encouraged by the higher prices the tuber fetched them for two consecutive years.

“Sowing of the early variety, Pokhraj potatoes is currently underway, it will start arriving by December 15. As per current estimates, the crop is expected to be very good this year as the weather conditions have been favourable so far. While the area under cultivation is only up by around five per cent, however, the production is expected to be higher because of the higher yield,” De pointed out.

Prices to inch down

According to Arvind Agarwal, President of UP Cold Storage Association, there is likely to be a 5-10 per cent increase in area under cultivation in UP as farmers have been very upbeat because of the remunerative prices.

While the price of the tuber in some of the southern states including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well as in Maharashtra is expected to remain firm as these prefer the old potatoes from cold storage as compared to the new crop, however, there is likely to be some price correction in some of the markets of eastern UP, Lucknow and Bengal.

“Sentiments are gradually weakening across the country, and the demand is also coming down a bit as the availability of green vegetables is increasing. So there is likely to be some impact on prices,” Agarwal pointed out.

Published on November 13, 2020

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