Potato prices crash 50% to Rs 5-6/kg in both producing and consuming areas


Potato prices in both producing and consuming areas across India have crashed 50 per cent to Rs 5-6 per kg this year on account of good rabi (winter) crop, as per the government data. While consumers are getting potato, the key kitchen staple, at very low prices at present but farmers are struggling to even recover their production costs.

As per the analysis of data on potato prices maintained by the Food Processing Ministry, the wholesale rates in 25 out of 60-odd key producing areas spread over Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar were ruling 50 per cent lower on March 20 when compared to the year-ago period.

In fact, wholesale prices of potato on March 20 were ruling below three years’ average at Rs 6 per kg in Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh as well as in Deesha, Gujarat. In the year-ago period, wholesale potato prices were at Rs 8-9 per kg on a lower side, only in some districts of Uttar Pradesh alone. Whereas in other states, the prices were above Rs 10 per kg and were quoting Rs up to 23 per kg in wholesale mandis.

Similarly in consuming areas, wholesale prices of potato on March 20 were ruling 50 per cent lower than the year-ago period in as many as 12 out of 16 consuming centres including Delhi tracked by the ministry. For instance, wholesale prices of potato were ruling as low as Rs 5 per kg in Amritsar (Punjab) and Delhi on March 20. The maximum price quoted for potato was Rs 17 per kg in Chennai, the data showed.

A similar trend was seen in retail markets.

The data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry showed modal retail prices ruling as low as Rs 10 per kg on March 20 as against Rs 20 per kg in the year-ago period. For example in Delhi, retail price of potato quoted Rs 15 per kg on March 20 this year as against Rs 30 per kg a year ago, the data showed. Speaking to PTI, Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan said, ”We track prices from the consumer side. There is a very good potato harvest in line with what’s been anticipated this time. There is good arrival in the mandi and retail prices are very good for consumers.” Asked about farmers not getting good rates for potato produce, the Secretary said this issue is handled by the agriculture ministry, which might be working on some proposal.

The current crop being harvested was grown during the rabi season of the 2020-21 (July-June), she added. Potato is mainly winter crop and rabi season accounts for approximately 85-90 per cent of total production in India. Out of total rabi production harvested during March-April, 60-70 per cent goes into cold stores. This is consumed the rest of the year till fresh crop starts from Punjab during November.

Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab and Gujarat are the major producing states in India. Annual domestic table consumption varies between 32-35 million tonnes, depending upon prices and availability.

India produces around 50 million tonnes of potato annually from an average area of 21 lakh hectares with average yield of 22-24 tonnes per hectare, as per the agriculture ministry data. India ranks third in potato production area and second in production in the world after China.