Affordable potato does a U-turn

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi/ Agra
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 04, 2009 01:02 IST

First it was a shortage of pulses that made kitchen budgets of Delhi residents go off target. Now it’s the turn of spiralling vegetable prices.

Potato is selling for a price twice as much as it cost a year ago; tomato is about 50 per cent costlier than last year and apple prices continue to head northward — the only exception are onion prices that are down by half.

The reason for surging prices of vegetables and fruits in Delhi, however, lies in faraway pockets of the country where monsoon has played truant this year.

Much of the potatoes that Delhi residents buy come from the potato belt of Agra-Etah-Hathras in UP. This year potato production in the state has fallen sharply to 66 lakh tonne from 1.1 crore tonne last year.

Uttar Pradesh consumes close to 60 lakh metric tonne every year. So there is very little left this year to export and the result is a spike in potato prices in Delhi. While wholesale price of potato has doubled to Rs 12 per kg, in the retail market it is selling for Rs 20, or more.

Experts say it could get worse in the coming weeks.

“Prices could skyrocket as other vegetables that supplement the potato — such as cauliflower and brinjal — could not be planted in July in the absence of rain,” said Rajnish Tyagi, a senior scientist at the B R Ambedkar University.

“In times of a crisis, the common man falls back upon the affordable potato. This time, unfortunately, he won't even have that option.”


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