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India: Cold storage owners feel the pinch of low potato prices

With potato prices at a nasty low, farmers, along with owners of cold stores, are feeling the pinch. The growers are not coming forward and the cold store owners are worried over facing losses. The rent for storing potatoes at the cold stores is normally settled at the end of the season, in November.

Nearly 450,000 bags of 50 kg each are still stored in the cold stores in the region of Bathinda, which has 35 cold stores with a capacity to store 3 million bags of potatoes. The seasonal rent charged from growers is Rs 100 per bag (€1.26);  nearly 20% is charged as advance and 80% is charged upon completion of season. Of the total produce, 30-35% is stored by traders, who eventually have to pay up to continue dealing with stores.

In the Bathinda area, potatoes were grown on 6,000 hectares in the last season and 165,000 tonnes of potatoes were produced. Potato growers on their part are frustrated, fearing heavy losses. They claim that the input cost turns out to be nearly Rs 100,000 per hectare (€1,260) whereas the potatoes are fetching only Rs 300 (€3.80) per 100 kgs and the growers have failed to even cover the input cost.

Bathinda-based cold store owner lqbal Singh Dhillon said: "Cold store owners are facing imminent losses. […] We charge rent from growers at the end of season, which seems doubtful this year, due to losses faced by farmers.” Another cold store owner said that cold stores will have to incur losses now farmers are not picking up the produce. "We will have to throw it away and face the cost of storing these,' he added.

Potato grower Jaspal Singh: "The prices have crashed to Rs 3 per kilogram with which we failed to cover even the input costs. Most of the growers are not going to cold stores to pick the produce."


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