SRINAGAR: After oranges, pomegranates, onions, Chitrali caps, Peshawari sandals and women’s suits, Pakistani potatoes have become popular among Valley consumers.
About 70 truckloads of potatoes arrive in the Valley via Chakoti-Salamabad cross-border barter trade route. The tubers are reciprocated with bananas from this side.
Muhamamd Imran, a wholesaler at Parimpora Mandi, said the potatoes are better and cheaper than the ones imported from Punjab.
He said Kashmir normally gets its supply of potatoes from Punjab, particularly Jhalandhar that grows the best variety in the neighbouring state.
“But the Pakistani thing beats even the Jhalandar potato in quality. Consumers ask for it again after they have it once,” Imran said.
Shabir Ahmad, a wholesaler at Iqbal Sabzi Mandi Batamaloo, said, “Pakistani potatoes are fresh. Most of the potato produce from India comes from cold stores which are emptied to pave way for fresh harvest.”
“There is good demand for Pakistani potatoes because of their freshness,” he said.
Pakistani media reports said that the country had a bumper crop of potatoes, with the government targeting export of 500,000 tons to prevent a prices crash of this commodity in local markets.
General secretary of Chakoti Salambad Trade Assocation Hilal Turki told Kashmir Reader the wholesale price of Pakistani potato is Rs 9-12 per kilogram and retails at Rs 20 per kg. Punjab potato sells for nearly the same amount but it doesn’t match Pakistani potato in quality.
According to the data provided by officials of Jammu and Kashmir Horticulture Planning and Marketing at Parimpora Mandi, about 27,495 metric tons of potatoes arrived at the mandi last fiscal. The trade amounted to Rs 27.73 crore.