Govt to import potatoes to rein in shooting prices

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 17 2014, 07:24am hrs
In a bid to curb rising prices of potato and improve domestic supplies, the government has decided to import the commodity. The volume of potato import is yet to be decided.

The government has asked Nafed and Small Farmers' Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) to explore the possibilities of import from Europe. These agencies are expected to float tenders shortly.

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Official sources told FE this will be the first time in many years that potato would be imported. The country's annual output has been enough to meet domestic demand in the last few years.

Although we have enough stock, as a precautionary measure we will import some quantity of potato for augmenting domestic supplies, an official said, adding that the new potato crop will enter the market only by January-end. Nafed and SFAC are expected to float tenders later this month so that shipments reach India by the end of

November.

Potato prices have been rising in many cities because of rising demand due to the festive seasons. Retails prices of potato in Delhi are in the range of R37-40 a kg and were at least R10 a kg lower two months ago.

In June, the government had imposed a minimum export price (MEP) of $450 per tonne on potato to increase domestic availability and cool prices. Currently, there is 30% import duty on the commodity. Potato export from India is negligible and mostly to Nepal.

In 2013-14, the country produced 44.34 million tonne of potatoes, which was marginally lower than the previous year.

Besides UP and West Bengal, other key producing states include Punjab, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Maharashtra.