Bhawan Singh, a farmer from Shamsabad village of Agra district who had sown potato in 30 acres of land, has just managed to sell his produce...
Bhawan Singh, a farmer from Shamsabad village of Agra district who had sown potato in 30 acres of land, has just managed to sell his produce at Azadpur, Asia’s biggest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables. But his produce was sold to traders for only R440 per quintal compared to R1,285 per quintal a year back.
“With such a sharp fall in prices this year, I would not be able to even recover my cost of cultivation,” Singh said. Expecting a price similar to last year’s, Singh had sown potato in 10 more acres. But excess arrivals have pulled down potato prices to one of the lowest in the recent months.
Scores of farmers from key producing states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have been hit hard this year due to sharp fall in prices. Experts said that higher productions this year and farmers bringing in produce, hit by recent unseasonal rains , to the market have led to fall in potato prices.
“More than 80% of potatoes were harvested and stored prior to this unseasonal rains. Farmers had no choice but bring in rest of their produce to market as it can’t be stored,” RP Gupta, director, National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation, a Nashik-based organisation, said.
The retail potato prices in Delhi and other cities have been prevailing in the range of R10-R15 per kg at present which were ruling around R20 to R25 per kg a year back.
“The prices are expected to be stable in the next few months as we have sufficient domestic supplies,” an official with department of consumer affairs said.
Meanwhile, the National Horticulture Board’s first advance estimate had forecast potato output at 42.77 million tonne this year as compared to 41.55 MT last year.
Besides UP and West Bengal, other key potato producing states include Punjab, Madhya Pradesh Karnataka and Maharashtra. More than 70% of the crop is raised in the rabi season, which is harvested during April-May.
In June last year, the government for the first time had imposed a minimum export price (MEP) of $450 per tonne in a bid to curb rising prices.
However, keeping in view of the prevailing lower prices and higher domestic availability of potato, the government had decided to remove the MEP of potato in February, 2015.