Potato traders in West Bengal have blamed the recent amendment to the Essential Commodities Act by the Centre for a rise in prices of the tuber in retail markets. They claim it allows barrier-free trade of the agricultural product, leading to the aforementioned losses.
Potato prices in West Bengal are currently ruling high at Rs 32-33 a kg as 15-20 per cent of daily supply of the commodity is being exported to neighbouring states, they claimed. "Potato prices are up at the retail level as at least 15-20 per cent of daily supplies are being sent to neighbouring states. If exports are stopped, the prices will come down by around Rs 4-5 per kg," traders said.
They also claimed that the June amendment to the Essential Commodities Act has a role in keeping potato prices firm, despite the state government's efforts to bring it down.
The state government had issued an ultimatum to potato traders to bring down the wholesale price to Rs 22 a kg and warned of action if retailers are found selling the tuber above Rs 27 a kg. Still, the Jyoti variety of potato is being sold at Rs 32-33 per kg.
According to the state government official, the gap between potato prices at cold storage and the retail market should not be more than Rs 5 per kg.
According to an article on indiatvnews.com, traders have also stated that the production of potato in West Bengal was lower by 10 per cent to 9.0-9.5 mln tonnes this year, though the output was sufficient for the state's consumption which is about 6 mln tonnes per year.
[ Rs 100 = €1.10 ]