Onion prices in the country brought real tears to Indian consumers last year, as the commodity prices climbed to a record Rs.100 per kilogram. Market participants blamed supply shortage for the crisis, while the government alleged that traders were creating an artificial shortage by holding the commodity stocks.
After wheat, rice and maize, potato is the most important food crop in the world. It is the fifth largest produced agricultural crop and the largest produced tuber and root crop in the world.
It has good food value and is rich in carbohydrates and also contains proteins, phosphorus, minerals like calcium and potassium and vitamins like vitamin C & A. The protein calorie ratio is high. Boiling potatoes increases their protein content and almost doubles their calcium content. It is vastly consumed as a vegetable and is also used in various forms such as starch, flour, alcohol, dextrin and livestock fodder.
It is a high yielding short duration crop. International Production Scenario Potatoes are grown in ~150 countries throughout the world and more than a billion people worldwide eat it. The top ten producers in the world are China, Russia, USA, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Belarus, Netherlands and France. These together contribute about 70% of the total production.
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India ranks third contributing around 7.5% to the world’s production. Production wise India has always remained in the top ten since last twenty years. Europe is the largest per capita consumer, followed by North America and Latin America.
India being a highly populated nation, for feeding its population, no crop other than potato can make an impact. Potato is the third most important staple crop in the world and is largely consumed in India. Potatoes were not produced in India till in the 17th century.
The Portuguese introduced this crop and cultivated it in Surat for the first time. Then onwards, it spread over all of India quite rapidly. With a production of around 26 million metric tonne (MT) in 2007, India ranks fourth in area and third in global potato production. It produces around 8% of the world’s total produce. Between 1960 and 2000, potato production increased by almost 850 percent, partly in response to growing demand from higher-income urban populations.
Since 1990, per capita consumption has risen from around 12 kg to 17 kg a year. Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of potatoes for India with ~98.21 lakh tons production in 2004-05 from an area of ~4.40 lakh hectares. The other major producers are West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, MP, Gujarat and Assam.
Regarding the consumption pattern, India has a huge population to feed and that’s why it has a large demand for this crop. As a result, there is a very small quantity of the potatoes left for the exports making India’s share in world exports insignificant and inconsistent. Potato export from India is negligible.
Fresh potatoes are exported to Sri Lanka, UAE, Mauritius, Nepal, Singapore, Maldives, Kuwait etc. With phenomenal increase in potato production in the last 10 years, recurring gluts have become common in the country. Prices crash drastically during harvesting months leading to panic sale by the farmers, and in turn leading to heavy monetary losses.
Sometimes, farmers are not able to even cover their cost of production. The states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Bihar accounting for more than 75 percent of area under cultivation and about 80 percent of total production;
The greatest concentration by far occurs along the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the northeast, where most potatoes are grown during the short winter days from October to March.
There are two major cropping seasons in India:
Kharif, during the south-west monsoon (June/July through September/October), when agricultural production takes place both in rain fed areas and irrigated conditions;
Rabi, during the winter, when agricultural activities take place only in the irrigated areas. ~80% of the crop is raised during winter season.
Trading centres in India
Agra (Uttar Pradesh)
Hathras (Uttar Pradesh)
Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh)
Meerut (Uttar Pradesh)
Farukhabad (Uttar Pradesh)
Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)
Indore (Madhya Pradesh)
Dewas (Madhya Pradesh)
Hoogly (West Bengal)
Burdwan (West Bengal)
Howrah (West Bengal)
Factors affecting price of Potato
Area under cultivation in the growing areas.
Weather in key growing regions particularly cold wave and heavy rains during tuber formation.
Price of other vegetables
Demand of potato from the major cities and food processing industries
Potato price tends to firm up during the planting period and eases down during the harvesting period.
Transportation charges from one place to another.
Potato growers and traders hoard the commodity before selling in expectation of better prices. Potato can be kept in cold storages without spoilage for 5-6 months.