Driven by the unexpected price rise and delayed monsoons this year, the farm acreage of potato is set to witness an increase.
The farmers in the state who have lost their paddy crops for want of irrigation, are now pinning hopes on potato to recover their losses.
According to Uttar Pradesh horticulture department, around 527,000 hectares was under potato crop this year, yielding a record 10.8 million metric tonnes of potato production in the state.
The prices, however, saw an uptrend touching highest in the last five years, at Rs 1,400 per quintal (100 kg) owing to poor production in the neighbouring states of Bihar and West Bengal.
According to market traders, the prices are expected to rise further owing to the imminent delay in harvest for the ongoing season due to rising temperature levels.
The harvest in Punjab has already been delayed by almost 20 days while that in UP is showing a similar trend.
The current potato prices in the market are reigning between Rs 1,400 and 1,700 per quintal.
A major chunk of this yield is obtained from seven districts of central UP, including Kanpur Dehat (rural), apart from adjoining Etawah, Aurraiya, Mainpuri, Kannauj, Farrukhabad and Firozabad districts.
The horticulture department expects the acreage to rise to 545,000 hectares this season in the backdrop of bullish prices.
Apart from this, the department is optimistic that per hectare yield will rise from 20.51 tonnes hectare during the last season to 27 tonnes per hectare this season.
“The farmers will prefer potato since this would fill in their paddy losses without affecting their rabi wheat crop in winters,” said Sanjay Katiyar, agriculture scientist at Chandrashekar Azad University (CSA).
Almost one-third of agricultural land is lying barren owing to the unforeseen failure of monsoons, for which the farmers are opting for potato as the supplemental crop in place of paddy.
Katiyar also said the trend could again result in windfall production of potato next year, causing severe storage problems as was the scenario last year. Last year, the prices nosedived so much that the cold storage had no space and the crop was forced to lie on roads.