India' potato output is likely to rise by 5.1 percent to a record 32.7 million tonnes in 2009/10 as higher prices prompted farmers to cultivate the tuber crop on more area, a senior official said on Friday.
"Because of scanty rains in some areas they (farmers) have not cultivated paddy crop. They covered this area with potato. Market prices are also high," R.P. Gupta, director, National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), told Reuters in an interview.
Paddy requires substantially higher amount of water than potato.
Average wholesale potato price in Agra, a major spot market in northern state of Uttar Pradesh, was 750 rupees per 100 kg on Friday, after hitting a high of 1,450 rupees in late October. In December 2008 price was hovering at around 160 rupees.
"Potato arrivals will pick-up from February and subsequently price will also ease," Gupta said, adding a sharp fall is unlikely as the country has thin carry forward stocks from last year's harvest.
In mid-2008, the government had suspended potato futures for few months in an attempt to check the price rise.