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Heatwave impacts potato production and prices in India

The summer heatwave in India has led to a decrease in summer crops and vegetables, causing a rise in food prices, including potatoes. The scarcity of summer vegetables has shifted consumer preference towards potatoes, leading to increased demand. India's potato production for the year stood at 58.99 million tons, a decline from the previous year's 60.14 million tons. The transportation of potatoes was adversely affected by the intense heat, contributing to sustained high prices post-harvest in March.

Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, the leading potato-producing states, contribute to nearly half of India's potato output. Despite the arrival of monsoon rains, the heatwave continues in north and central regions of India. This situation has led to an increase in potato prices, impacting the country's food inflation rate, which reached 8.7% in April, with rural areas experiencing a slightly higher rate of 8.75%. Wholesale potato prices vary significantly across the country, with rates ranging from INR 1800 to INR 5500 per 100 kg.

Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das highlighted the challenges posed by the exceptionally hot summer and low reservoir levels on the production of summer crops, including vegetables and fruits. The anticipated summer/monsoon crop of potatoes, expected to be harvested around July-end, is hoped to alleviate the price pressures. Retail prices for potatoes average around INR 40 per kg, with premium varieties fetching higher prices. Online platforms and grocery stores have listed potatoes at prices between INR 30 and 55 per kg.

The high prices of potatoes reflect the broader trend of elevated vegetable prices, contributing to a significant food inflation rate. The political landscape, with the national election underway, has also seen rising potato prices, attributed to potential hoarding in cold storage facilities. The current situation underscores the impact of climatic conditions on agricultural production and the subsequent effects on market prices.

[ INR 100 = €1.10 ]


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