Monday, 15 December 2014

Potato prices plunge on pre-mature harvest

After earning high profits last year, grower in India are selling the crop at a small margin this year. The potato arrivals in December are fetching Rs 5-7 a kg, far lower than previous year’s Rs 16-20 a kg.

A senior official at National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation, Nasik, said the prices of potato went through the roof during the last season, luring the farmers to grow more potatoes. The farmers started harvesting kaccha aloo (premature crop).  The simultaneous arrivals from all parts of India lowered the prices.

R P Gupta, joint director, National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation, said there was not a significant increase in potato crop area but the productivity has been higher over last year due to conducive weather.

Department of sources said there had been a growth in rabi sowing by five per cent (80 per cent of the potato crop is grown in rabi season and 20 per cent in kharif season).

An acreage of 1.99 million hectares was registered in 2012-13 and 45.3 million tonnes crop was produced.

In 2013-14, potato was sown in 2.01 hectares and a crop size of 44.30 million tones was recorded, a fall of 2.3 per cent.

Sowing is still on in some areas and there have been indications of up to five per cent increase in area under potatoes, Gupta said.

Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha, a progressive farmer from Punjab and one of the largest potato growers in India, told Business Standard the should take some initiatives to explore export possibilities.

A government intervention through National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) or some other agency could save farmers from distress selling. The officials in the ministry refused to comment on this.

Jagtar Singh Mehma, a potato grower in Bhatinda district of Punjab told weather plays a crucial role in the potato productivity. Untimely rain, ground frost and late blight of potato (a disease) can affect the final crop size. The lower remuneration over last year is disheartening and may dissuade farmers from covering large area under potato next year, he said.


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