Agri Business

West Bengal: Potato prices likely to fall further

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on November 24, 2021

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Potato rates to drop if the West Bengal State government doesn’t extend the time limit for release of the entire stock from cold storage

Potato prices in West Bengal, which has come down by nearly ₹4-5 a kg over the last fortnight, is likely to come down further if the State government does not extend the time limit for release of the entire stock from cold storage.

The wholesale potato price in the State is currently ruling at around ₹11-12 a kg, as compared with ₹15-16 a kg at end of October and early November. Cold storages usually enter into a contract for keeping the tuber till November 30 of each year and the rent is arrived at on the basis of that. The State government decides to extend the date depending on the stock situation.

Festive impact

The potato prices had gone up during the festive season due to a surge in demand and poor release from cold storage due to the unavailability of labourers. The State government stepped in and issued a notification asking farmers and traders to release the entire stock from cold storage by November 30 so as to prevent people from hoarding potatoes.

According to Patit Paban De, former president of West Bengal Cold Storage Association, this brought down prices by nearly ₹4-5 a kg in the last fortnight.

“Close to 23-24 per cent of the stock is still left behind in cold storage, as compared with close to 20 per cent during the usual year. We expect this to come down to close to 16-17 per cent by the end of this month. If the State government does not allow an extension in the time period and if the remaining potatoes were to be taken out from cold storages by November 30, then the tuber will get rotten and the prices will crash,” De told BusinessLine.

Also read: Rains, festival demand push potato prices up by over ₹200 a quintal

Potato production in West Bengal is higher by nearly 16 per cent at 110 lakh tonne this year, as compared to 95 lakh tonne in 2020. Close to 71 lakh tonne of potatoes were kept in cold storage this year, as against 55 lakh tonne in 2020. There are around 400 cold storages in Bengal and the total storage capacity is estimated to be close to 70 lakh tonne.

Cultivation of potatoes 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.

It is to be noted that the price of potatoes in Uttar Pradesh, which is one of the key growing regions, has also dropped to around ₹8-10 a kg because of the arrival of new crop. Close to 10-12 per cent of the stock in Uttar Pradesh is left in the cold storage at present.

Steady demand

According to industry sources, there is a steady demand for tuber as heavy rains in certain parts of the country has impacted other vegetables.

“There is a good demand for Bengal potatoes in the neighbouring markets of Assam, Bihar, Odisha as well as in some of the southern markets which have been badly affected by rains,” a trader said.

Sowing in West Bengal has also been delayed due to untimely rain and this is likely to lead to some delay in the arrival of new crops. So the current stock would be used up in December and early January.

Sowing in Uttar Pradesh has also been delayed due to rains. “In some of the markets such as Farukkhabad and Kannauj, the early crop has also been spoilt due to heavy rains,” said Arvind Agarwal, President of Uttar Pradesh Cold Storage Association.

Also read: Potato prices in Bengal drops by 50% on excess production

“If the West Bengal government issues notification allowing stock to be kept in cold storages for slightly longer then the current stock would help meet this demand. This will also hold prices firm at current levels,” De pointed out.

Published on November 24, 2021

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