A potato vendor at Morabadi in Ranchi last week. Picture by Hardeep Singh
If potatoes are getting too pricey for your kitchen, blame it on polls.
Right now, capital residents are paying Rs 20 to Rs 22 per kilo of the tuber when only a fortnight back, they bought potatoes at Rs 12 or Rs 14.
In layman terms, it means an inflation up to 83 per cent in 15 days.
The reason behind the sudden rise in potato prices is two-fold. One, potato trucks from poll-bound Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are fewer. Two, local potatoes stocked at three cold storage godowns, one at Kuju and two in Pandra, have not been released.
Anil Sahu, president of Alu Pyaz Thok Vikreta Sangh, potato and onion wholesaler outfit in Pandra Bazar Samiti, told The Telegraph that local farmers had sold them a portion of their produce and stocked the rest at cold storage units.
“We have no say in whether they will release the stocks from cold storage. That’s jointly decided by farmers and unit owners,” he said. “We are waiting for stocks to arrive from Bengal and Uttar Pradesh after May 12 (when their Lok Sabha elections) get over. The hike in price will continue till then,” Sahu said.
Jharkhand also depends heavily on potatoes from Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. “In the capital only, the usual inflow of potato-laden trucks from Bengal and Uttar Pradesh is 18 to 20 per day. Each truck holds up to 350 bags. Each bag has 50kg potatoes,” Sahu said.
He added potato supply from both states had reduced to less than half. “Due to elections, the number of trucks from the states has come down to five or eight per day. The number fluctuates, which disturbs wholesale and retail prices,” he added.
Madan Sahu, a Lalpur-based retailer, agreed: “I had been selling potatoes at Rs 20 when the purchase price of my stock last Wednesday was Rs 16. As the wholesale price at Pandra market increased, so did my retail price to Rs 21 or 22.”
Suresh Ojha, a potato seller at a local bazaar near Ormanjhi, on Ranchi outskirts, is selling the tuber a little cheaper at Rs 18-19 per kilo.
“Prices at the local haats are less than at capital retailers. We procure from domestic farmers or directly through sellers of other states. They drop five or six sacks while entering the city. That’s sufficient for us,” he said.
When contacted, Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey said it was “not a crisis-like situation yet for the state or the district administration to take a call right away”.
Still, Ranchi residents, the November spurt in potato prices fresh in memory, are fighting shy of potatoes now.
Ranchi homemaker Kaveri Gupta of Tharpakhna said she was going easy on potatoes for the time being.
“It is difficult to manage the budget. During summer, there is no demand for potato specialities such as alu paratha or alu tikki. But we do add the tuber as a staple to most vegetable curries,” she said.
Which area sold the most affordable potatoes?