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Year 2020 Turns Rewarding for Indian Potato Growers

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ data, All-India retail prices of potato had averaged Rs 30 a Kg last Friday, up from Rs 20, as against prices three months ago. The Average selling price of onion in retail markets has increased by more than 100% to Rs 31/kg since February.

Abhijeet Banerjee

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ data, All-India retail prices of potato had averaged Rs 30 a Kg last Friday, up from Rs 20, as against prices three months ago. The Average selling price of onion in retail markets has increased by more than 100% to Rs 31/kg since February. Potato prices are currently maintaining higher rates mainly because of fall in production – similar to Onion during last year. UP and West Bengal are the major potato-growing states and farmers in these states deposit the bulk of their harvested produce in cold stores.  

Potato is harvested between January-March and after that the farmers go for staggered sales, which continue till October-November, and from these months planting for the next season normally commences. Sowing was lower during the planting season of 2019-2020 and farmers were forced to plant less because of poor price realizations since last two years. Market sources estimate that not more than 36 crore bags (of 50 kg each) were stocked in cold stores this time. On the other hand approximately 48 crore, 46 crore and 57 crore bags were stored during marketing years of 2019, 2018, and 2017 respectively.  

In mandis of UP the Regular table potato, locally sold as ‘mota aloo’ is currently traded near Rs 19-20 per kg and traders feel that prices of this grade would have been sold Rs3-5/kg higher in case there was no lockdown. In May prices for the same were averaging between Rs 15-16 in May – therefore farmers who had stocked in May and selling in July have received profit worth 25% in just two months. Demand had suffered from the lockdown due to closure of hotels and restaurants. Since potato is used making daily consumable snacks i.e. samosa, aloo chaat, tikki,  pav bhaji, Dosa,  French Fries, burgers etc. therefore lockdown had negatively impacted demand due to which prices fell between March and May.  

Generally, farmers of UP have to incur cost between Rs 9 and10 a kg for producing potatoes. Considering loss of moisture and cold store charges total cost goes to Rs13-14/kg roughly. Therefore, at current market rates of Rs19-20/kg farmers are getting rewarded from their production, and this has happened after a long duration of 4 years. Surely year 2020 has been profitable for potato growers. As per reports farmers have sold nearly one fourth of their crop stocked in cold stores and for the coming season they intend to sell 15% further. Remaining quantity can be slowly offered for sale later, whenever prices shoot up, especially during the festival months. The cold stores have actually saved the farmers from during lockdown, since they were able to sell after few months without facing quality related problems.  

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