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Bengal’s potato output seen up by 16% on higher area, favourable weather

Bengal’s potato output seen up by 16% on higher area, favourable weather

Potato production in West Bengal is estimated to be higher by nearly 16 per cent at 110 lakh (11 million) tonnes (lt) this year, compared to 95 lt in 2020. The higher production of the tuber in Bengal and other key growing States including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab is likely to exert pressure on prices.

Wholesale price of the tuber (the common Jyoti variety) has already halved to ₹800 (~10.90 USD) a quintal across various markets in the State compared to ₹1,500-1,600 in the same period last year. According to Patit Paban De, former president of West Bengal Cold Storage Association, the rise in production is primarily because of higher area and the favourable climatic conditions during sowing and harvesting period, as he told BusinessLine.

Patit Paban De:
"Last year, farmers got very good price for their crop due to the lower production and the steady demand almost throughout the year. This has encouraged them to go for higher cultivation of the crop this year."

"Moreover, the favourable climatic condition in the form of a long winter has helped increase the productivity and yield."
Potato production in the State was impacted in 2020 due to delayed sowing and unfavourable weather conditions during harvesting. The steady demand for the tuber from within the State as well as the neighbouring markets kept prices firm.

The wholesale price of the tuber had increased to nearly ₹3,400-3,500 a quintal in mid-November last year. However, prices started inching down and were seen ruling at around ₹1,400-2,000 in early January.

Bumper Loading

Cultivation of the spud in Bengal is spread over close to 4.6 lakh (460,000) hectares. Hooghly, Burdwan, Bankura, East Midnapore and West Midnapore are key growing districts. There has been around 5-7 per cent increase in acreage this year, sources said.

According to De, loading in cold storages is almost complete and most store houses have been stored to up to 97 per cent capacity. The loading in cold storages was lower in 2020 at only 55 lakh tonnes (approximately 79 per cent of the total capacity). There are around 400 cold storages in Bengal and the total storage capacity is estimated to be close to 70 lt.

Mintu Ghosh, a potato trader, in the Bankura district of West Bengal:
"While the prices are ruling steady at present but we feel once the unloading starts then prices will start inching down."