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Is the Potato still a Staple in India after prices hike 92% in a Year?

Prices of Potatoes and all other vegetables and pulses have steadily increased through the course of the coronavirus-infused lockdown. (Courtesy: Orapin Joyphuem)

One of the cheapest vegetables and a kitchen staple regardless of the family's financial background, potato has become expensive.

The prolonged pandemic situation led to a misapprehension of the supply and demand of potatoes pushing prices to an all-India hike of 92 percent in the span of a year, ranging between Rs 35 to Rs 45 per kg in different parts of the country. Also Read - Onion Costliest at Rs 100/kg in Bengaluru; Lowest at Rs 35/kg in Rajasthan, West Bengal.

This is the steepest rise of potato prices in the last 130 months. On the other hand, onion prices also continue to surge and have witnessed a 44 percent rise, ranging between Rs 80 and Rs 100 per kg. Also, Read - Consumers, Vendors Hit as Vegetable Prices Soar in Delhi.

Prices of all other vegetables and pulses have also steadily increased through the course of the coronavirus-infused lockdown. Also, Read - Centre Imposes Stock Limits On Onion Traders Till Dec 31 to Check Prices.

The government has said that the sharp food inflation emerged due to less storage as compared to previous years. The last time potato prices had increased this high was almost 11 years ago in January 2010.

Further, in the case of onions, incessant rains in the onion growing regions caused less harvest of the food crop.

Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said private import of 7,000 tonnes and another 25,000 tonnes shipment before Diwali are expected to improve the domestic supply situation and check price rise of the commodity.

Along with that, about 10 lakh tonnes of potato is also being imported, 30,000 tonnes from Bhutan, for which customs duty has been reduced to 10 percent till January 2021.

The minister, however, noted that although the retail prices of onion, potato, and some of the pulses had increased, for the last few days, the rates have been stable because of the government's proactive measures, including a ban on the export of onion.

Onions are imported from countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, and Turkey by private traders. Even Nafed will import on its own capacity, he added.

Goyal had also said that with the arrival of Kharif onions in mandis from next month, the supply situation is expected to improve and ease pressure on prices.