Your pricey potatoes are heading to Gulf nations

At a time when potato prices are ballooning up in the local markets, the bulb is being shipped abroad, making the prices at home more absonant. Out of the approximate 996 tonnes of potato seen entering the Agricultural Produce and Market Committee (APMC) premises in Vashi in the last week, 100 tonnes has been exported to UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Representation pic

On Friday, 83 trucks and tempos laden with potatoes entered the APMC market. Each vehicle is known to carry 12 tonnes of the commodity on an average. Generally, potatoes are exported mainly for the purpose of making chips, but the scarcity of water in the Gulf countries has affected their local produce, leading them to seek huge quantities of the commodity from India.

The traders here are in the thick of things as they’re getting higher prices. But the common man is being stretched thin. Speaking to MiD DAY Kanniya Nishad of Ranjit Exports in APMC said, “The demand for potato has increased tremendously in the last 15 days, to the extent that we are buying good-quality crop at Rs 22-24 for a kilo from the wholesale market. This is the old produce that we are sending because the new crop tends to blacken during transportation. The old crop is such that it does not change colour and lasts for a longer time.”

Nishad said that close to 100 tonnes of potato has been sent from the market via the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in containers. It takes 8-10 days for the commodity to reach the Gulf via sea. Asked about the value they get for a 10-kilo consignment, he said it was around 20 dirhams. Another APMC trader Sanjay Pingale said, “The scarcity in the Gulf is probably the core reason for the surge in demand from APMC. Gulf countries are known to get the commodity from Pakistan but the crop there has probably exhausted. Hence the demand from our markets has increased tremendously.”

A senior APMC official said the upswing could be one of the reasons potato prices in the local markets have further gone up. “Potato is a kitchen essential and in the last few days its price has almost equalled the current price of onions, considering that the latter has stabilised now. The exporters obviously get a good value for their commodity overseas,” added the official.

996 tonnes
Amount of potato seen entering the APMC in Vashi over last week

100 tonnes
Amount exported to UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia over the past week

Rs 25
Prevailing retail price of a kilogram of potato in the local markets    

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