Keeping in view the expected demand and supply scenario of potato, the Agricultural Market Intelligence Centre (AMIC) of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has predicted potato prices in the range of Rs 450-Rs 550 per quintal during February-March 2014.
Jagrup S Sidhu, incharge, AMIC, observed that the potato prices might further increase during April to November 2014.
Elaborating, Sidhu said the prices of potato crop in the major markets of the state ruled between Rs 400 and Rs 500 per quintal from January 2012 to April 2013, and increased in the range of Rs 500-Rs 750 during May to October. Due to rising demand and shrinking supply, the potato prices were up recently, he added.
The demand for potato increased due to its substitution for other costly vegetables, he said, while pointing out disruption in the supply of vegetables because of delayed summer and late rainfall during September-October 2013. At the same time, the high temperature during these months adversely affected the yield of new pre-mature harvested potato crop, he observed.
"High potato prices during November have prompted the farmers to harvest pre-mature potato from larger area. Therefore, the supply of main crop during February 2014 onwards may be tightened, which will put upward pressure on potato prices during 2013-14," Sidhu said.
Moreover, the potato production was also likely to decline marginally as the untimely rainfall during its harvesting time in February 2013 had adversely affected the quality of potato seed in most parts of the state, he added.
Highlighting that potato was the most important vegetable in India, Sidhu said India was the second largest producer of this crop with more than 10% share in world potato production after China, with a share of 22%.
"In India, about 85% potato is grown in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Punjab," he said.
Most of the potato produced in the country is consumed within the country with very little export mainly to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Punjab state accounts for about 5% of the total potato production in the country, he said.
The area and production of potato in the country remained almost same during 2012-13 as that of last year around 19 lakh hectares and 450 lakh tonnes, respectively.
Similarly in Punjab, the area and production of potato remained around 85,000 hectares and 21 lakh tonnes, respectively, during the same period, he said.
Sidhu advised farmers to keep in mind the above information while taking their potato harvesting, selling and storage decisions.