Windfall for potato growers as prices shoots up to double after years
After getting low price for years, the potato-growers can finally heave a sigh of relief, all thanks to shooting up of prices to more than the double from what it was just a few months ago.
The estimates are that the rates may further go up—an apprehension that has prompted the state government to ask the cold storages to allow farmers to withdraw their potato on priority so that more potato comes into the market and stabilize the increase in price.
“No doubt, the potato prices have shot up quite substantially in the state after a gap of four-five years,” said Gaya Prasad, the state potato development officer, adding, “While this is good for farmers, we have to watch consumers’ interest as well and this is why we are trying to increase availability of potato in the market.”
According to Pooran Chandra Sharma of Sharma Potato Wholesalers, Aga, farmers had not been getting a ruminative price for last four-five years and often forced to dump potato here and there in frustration.
“But for last one month or so the wholesale price of potato is hovering around Rs 1400-1700 per quintal which is more than double the price that was till recently and three times the market intervention price fixed by the state government,” he said.
On coming to power last year, the Yogi Adityanath government announced the minimum support price/market intervention price saying it would purchase potato from farmers if the market price was below the rate fixed by it. This year the government revised and raised the MSP/MIP to Rs 549 per quintal.
A low production in various states, including West Bengal, the second largest potato grower after UP, and various incentives offered by the state government for other states to buy potato from UP to help farmers get better price are being seen among main reasons for the potato prices shooting up in UP.
“While UP’s production fell only slightly to around 150 lakh MT from 155 lakh MT last year, the production in West Bengal and Bihar, the other potato growers, has dropped significantly creating more demand for UP’s potato there,” said a senior horticulture department official. UP produces more than 30% of the country’s potato.
Many southern states are said to have sourced potato from UP availing the government’s incentives including one on transportation.
As per the estimates, there are little chances of the potato prices coming down this year. “Many farmers store potato at their home and keep on supplying the same to mandis but once the supply of this kind of potato ends after May, the price may even go up further,” said DN Pandey, an ex-official of the horticulture department.
The prevailing high prices of potato to much of the benefit of farmers must have come as a big relief to the BJP government that had been under attack from the opposition for the potato growers facing hardships due to their not getting the proper price. The issue was much in news when some farmers allegedly threw potatoes outside the CM residence and the Raj Bhawan as a mark of protest. The BJP had blamed the Samajwadi Party (SP) of stage managing the protests.