Potato Cultivation Increase by 6-7percent
Potato cultivation is likely to increase by 6-8 per cent in Uttar Pradesh as farmers had earned higher income in potato in 2018 than in the previous year,” president, Federation of Cold Storage Association of India (FCSAI) Mahendra Swarup told ET. He said most farmers have earned more in 2018 than in the previous two seasons.
Higher potato cultivation is also attributed to rains in October that has replenished the water bodies and groundwater level in Northern states, a senior official of Uttar Pradesh Horticulture department said.
Potato acreage has increased in two major potato growing states of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh that produce around 55-60 per cent of potato output in India. The tuber sowing season begins in October and extends till December in Rabi season. “Potato area is up by more than 5 per cent compared to last year in West Bengal,” Patit Paban De, member of West Bengal Cold Storage Association (WBCSA), said.
This year potato prices have remained steady for most part of the year but witnessed slide in the month of November and December. But the price fall as affected traders and cold store owners more than the farmers. Also, the price support schemes for potato launched by states to check distress sale has encouraged farmers to increase potato cultivation in the country.
This season Haryana has announced to include potato under Bhawantar Bharpayee Scheme while Uttar Pradesh has bought potato at Rs 4.87 per kilogram in the last season to check losses to farmers. Lately, Punjab government has also announced to buy the crop for mid-day meal to check distress sale. But traders who are facing losses in potato trade see little succour in such schemes. Traders claim that loading cost (cost at potato at the time of storing including transportation, packaging and deterioration of stock) is much higher than the assistance offered by the government. “ Moreover governments buy selective crop consisting high quality specifications that curtail extent of compensation to farmers,” Swarup said.
“A higher retail price of potato in 2018 seemed to have suppressed the demand in domestic market and it has left surplus buffer stock with cold storeowners,” trader based in Madhya Pradesh said. Traders and cold store owners pay to farmers in advance for their stocks. It is not possible to recover cost of transportation, bags, deterioration, rentals and most of the loss fell on cold store owners.
Rise in potato production has caused gluts in recent years in India. It has hurt business interest of stakeholders including traders, cold store owners.
Rise in potato production has caused gluts in recent years in India. It has hurt business interest of stakeholders including traders, cold store owners and farmers in potato cultivation. “Ironically potato growers are hoping that output remains average as bumper crop will check prices in the ongoing potato season,” says Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha, leading potato growers in India.
By BOA Bureau