After 2011 potato glut, smaller crop this year

After 2011 potato glut, smaller crop this year

Output down by 25 pc in Punjab, 20 pc in UP, Bihar

 Disturbing visuals of tonnes of freshly harvested potato crop littered on roads in Punjab last year, and desperate farmers hankering to sell potatoes for even less than Re 1 per kilo, have perhaps had an imminent fallout.

Areas under potato crop in Punjab has reduced and the produce is expected to be way below normal this year.

Traders and experts said the downslide in production could be for multiple reasons, attributing much of the ‘trend’ to skeptical growers unwilling to face the same fate as last year. The untimely rain in January this year has also done damage to potatoes. Potato cultivation in Punjab is less by 5,000 hectares since last year. As a result, Punjab’s potato crop is likely to be down 25 per cent this season, or even more.

As India stares at a deficit production, a likely bumper crop in Pakistan and increasing demand in Indian markets has brought smiles to farmers there.

Secretary of the Jalandhar Potato Growers Association, Jaswinder Singh Sangha said the drop in the supply of potatoes will mean that prices could remain stable, unlike last year when they collapsed completely forcing farmers into distress selling and even dumping old stock on roads.

Sangha maintained that not only has the potato-growing area in Punjab come down, cost of fertilisers has gone up and farmers have been getting dismal prices.
In fact, sources in the trade say the potato production in the country this year is estimated at 33 million tonnes, 15 per cent less than last year.

Production in states like Bihar, West Bengal and parts of UP too is also expected to be down by about 20 per cent, said sources.

Punjab potato growers may also find it hard to sell produce in Jammu and Kashmir where they got a better price earlier. The expected bumper crop in Pakistan and the ongoing potato trade from Pakistan via Kashmir is also a limiting factor.

Indian traders from Jammu and Kashmir now import potatoes from the borders of Srinagar and other sectors with zero import duty.

Pakistani potato is cheaper than the Indian variety, traders say. A good bumper crop in Pakistan will help Indian traders get better deals.

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