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Bengal Potato Prices Drop By 50% Due To Overproduction

Bengal potato production is expected to increase by over 16% this year, to 110 lakh tonnes, compared to 95 lakh tonnes in 2020.

Chintu Das
Potato Hoarding
Potato Hoarding

Due to excess production in major producing states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, and Gujarat, potato prices in West Bengal have plunged by about 50% in less than 2 months. The wholesale price of the tuber (Jyoti variety) is presently resting at Rs500 to Rs550 per quintal, down from Rs1,000 to Rs1,100 in early June.

Prices have decreased roughly 62% year over year, from Rs1,300 to Rs1,400 per quintal in the same period last year.

The prices, according to Patit Paban De, past president of the West Bengal Cold Storage Association, are much below the cost of production and other expenses incurred by a farmer, including storage fees.

At the farmer's end, the average cost of production and expenses is near to Rs.700 per quintal. This has made them hesitant, and many have been hoarding supplies in the hopes that prices will improve.

“Till end of July, just about 30% of potatoes had been released from cold storage, although it should've been closer to 33-34 %. This year's potato production is higher in several states, resulting in a surplus on the market. Farmers are clinging on to their stock since prices are lesser than their production costs,” De said.

Exceptional Potato Production

West Bengal potato production is expected to increase by over 16% this year, to 110 lakh tonnes, compared to 95 lakh tonnes in 2020. This year, around 71 lakh tonnes of potatoes were maintained in cold storages, compared to only 55 lakh tonnes in 2020. Bengal has over 400 cold storage facilities, with a combined storage capacity of around 70 lakh tonnes.

Last year at this time, about 38% of potatoes were released from cold storage due to constant demand. However, insufficient demand this year has hampered the stock's release, according to Rabindranath Pal, a potato merchant from the Hooghly area.

Potato plantation is distributed across nearly 4.6 lakh hectares in Bengal.

The primary growing districts are Hooghly, Burdwan, Bankura, East Midnapore, and West Midnapore. This year, the area under cultivation increased by about 5 to 7% .

Farmers who received a high price for their harvest last year due to lesser supply and stable demand were encouraged to increase crop cultivation this year. Furthermore, the favourable meteorological situation of a protracted winter has aided in the development of productivity and yield.

Potato overproduction is expected to lower prices even further this year, putting farmers and traders at a disadvantage, according to sources.

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