Potato production across the key growing States of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal is likely to be higher this year on the back of an increase in the area under cultivation and a better yield.
According to Arvind Agarwal, President of UP Cold Storage Association, while there has been a clear increase in the acreage under the tuber this year, it is difficult to estimate the rise in production right now as harvesting is yet to gather pace in many of the growing regions.
“A clear picture (on the production) will emerge only by end of January. But, as of now, we can surely say that the yield looks better and there has also been a rise in the area under production,” Agarwal told BusinessLine.
Both UP and West Bengal had witnessed a drop in potato production primarily due to delayed sowing and unfavourable weather conditions during harvesting. West Bengal, which produces 110-115 lakh tonnes (lt) of the tuber each year, produced around 90 lt last year. This is even lower than 2019’s 92 lt.
The lower production and the steady demand for the tuber had pushed up prices, which remained firm almost throughout the year.
Steady rise in output
Enthused by the good prices, farmers stepped up sowing this year, said Patit Pavan De, Member, West Bengal Cold Storage Association.
“This year there has been a rise in acreage and in the next 20-25 days, if the weather continues to remain favourable, then the production is likely to be higher than last year,” De said. Potato cultivation in Bengal is spread over close to 3.7 lakh hectares. Hooghly, Burdwan, Bankura, Midnapore are the key growing districts. There has been a 10-12 per cent increase in the area under cultivation this year, he added.
Prices under pressure
Wholesale prices of potato in Bengal, which were ruling at ₹28-29 a kg till even about a month ago, have dipped by nearly 30 per cent. The prices have been fluctuating depending on the arrivals of the early crop (Pokhraj). When the arrival is good, price inches down to ₹14 a kg and when it is lower, prices move up,” De pointed out.
Because of lower prices, farmers are retaining their stock. This is likely to exert some pressure on prices once harvesting gathers steam.