SRINAGAR: Kashmir valley is witnessing a surge in potato prices as supplies from India are reaching neighboring Pakistan, besides fears of lower local produce this year, due to snow in March.
The price of potato are presently showing an upward trend with prevalent market rates of two main varieties, white and red touching Rs 25 and Rs 30 respectively per Kilogram in retail market, that had been Rs 15 and Rs 20 more than a month ago.
The surge has made both wholesalers and retailers a worried lot as this commodity never witnessed such a price hike.
Fayaz Ahmad a wholesale vegetable dealer at Parimpora Fruit Mandi said that the arrival of potatoes this time is very feeble as India is exporting most of its potatoes to Pakistan through the Wagah route after the neighboring country suffered extensive damage to its crop.
“At present wholesale price of the red texture potato at Rs 22 per kilogram, while the white one cost Rs 18 per kilogram,” said Fayaz who forecast that the prices may remain high till the local produce reaches the markets next month.
Adding that last year during this time the wholesale prices had been in the range of Rs 11 to 13 for the top quality potatoes.
Wholesalers at the mandi confirmed that last year they imported potatoes in bulk quantities from Pakistan, but this year it turns out to be payback time and there are some supplies trickling to Pakistan Administered Kashmir through the cross LoC barter trade.
Confirming this, General Secretary Salambad-Chakoti Traders Union (SCTU), Hilal Turkey told Kashmir Reader that over the past few weeks they have dispatched more than 10 truckloads of potatoes through this route, but the bulk of exports from India are being carried through Wagah route.
The growers too are worried about the yield this year, as local potato crop has been damagedy by snowfall and the subsequent inundation of many vegetable growing areas in March.
Hilal Ahmad a grower from Noor Bagh area in Srinagar said that their crop has been damaged extensively by snowfall and the output this year might be low. According to wholesalers at Iqbal Sabzi Mandi Batamloo, the crop of potatoes also got damaged in India, due to frost during winters in potato growing areas in North India that has surged the rates in Indian markets too. Shabir Ahamd Wani one of the wholesalers at this mandi told Kashmir Reader that this time the supplies coming from India are rationed among the wholesalers here, as supplies are weak as traders in India are pushing in limited supplies to Kashmir valley given the demand from Pakistan.
The wholesalers also said that the local produce apart from sufficing local need for few months is in great demand in Jammu and Punjab, even though their size is comparatively low as the varieties grown outside.
Kashmir mostly depends on imports of this vegetable, with last year figures show that arrival of potatoes at Parimpora Fruit Mandi being 27,500 MT with officials saying that the imports are many times more through other mandis including the exclusive wholesale vegetable Mandi at Batamloo.
“In our mandi the traders are mostly engaged in fruit business, but potatoes too are traded here with, imports being 23400 MT and the local arrival touching 4100 MT last year,” said one of the officials at J&K Horticulture Planning and Marketing Department, that oversees the market activities.