Late monsoon showers this year are likely to bring down the potato crop size by at least 10 per cent next year.
Till a few months back, cold storage owners were struggling to get rid of the excess potato but now they are expecting a short supply in the coming months.
Due to late monsoon, the early crop was late by 15-20 days in major markets, said cold storage owners. Early potato crop, which takes nearly 70 days to mature, is in cold storages by the first week of October.
In addition, this year farmers were reluctant to sow potato seed, after they suffered worst-ever losses from the crop to the extent that two of them committed suicide few months back, said Patit Paban De of the West Bengal Cold Storage Association.
“This would result in at least 10 per cent reduction in the crop size next year,” he added. In West Bengal, early potato crop accounts for 8-10 per cent of the total potato cultivation.
The West Bengal government’s recent decision to give transport subsidy of Rs 40 crore to potato traders, resulted in a steady supply of the crop from West Bengal to Orissa, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu over the last three months.
As a consequence, of the total stock in the cold storages till about three months ago, about 70 per cent of the commodity has been sent to the other states. The steady demand from other states comes in the wake of the late crop in most potato-growing states, said Dey.
“In the next three months, potato prices are expected to rise in the local market as the new crop from districts of Bankura and Bardhman is yet to arrive. As a result, we expect a rise in the prices in the coming months. This would help farmers and traders to minimise the losses,” said De.
Farmers mostly had sold the commodity at Rs 140 per quintal, against a cost of Rs 300 per quintal, inclusive of input costs and transportation charges.
The state cold storage association has pegged the collective loss of the traders and farmers associated with the crop at Rs 750 crore.
Last year, potato production in West Bengal was 8.8 million tonnes, an increase of almost 25 per cent over the previous year.