In a first, Govt to import potatoes to curb price rise

In a first, Govt to import  potatoes to curb price rise
The historic decision taken by union agriculture ministry is aimed at improving domestic availability of the essential vegetable item which is used in every kitchen across the country. The key kitchen item was becoming unreachable for the aam aadmi following the rise in the prices of potatoes as it’s been sold in the retail market at Rs 35 to Rs 40 per kg in the nation capital.

While defending the move, union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said, ‘We are taking all possible measures to control price rise in potato.’ Giving details of the potato import, union agriculture secretary Ashish Bahuguna said that the government has decided to import potatoes and cooperative Nafed have been directed to float tenders for the same soon.

‘For the first time, we are going to import potatoes to check price rise and improve domestic supply. We have asked Nafed to float tenders,’ Bahuguna said. Tenders will be invited this month so that shipments reach India by November-end, he added.

In a reply to a question about from which countries the potatoes will be imported, Bahuguna said, ‘Potatoes will be imported from countries like Europe and Pakistan. Imports will be done to ensure sufficient supply till January.’

The Small Farmers' Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) has also been asked to explore possibilities of imports. In June, the government had imposed a minimum export price (MEP) of $450 per tonne on potatoes to increase domestic availability and cool prices. At present, there is 30 per cent import duty on potatoes. The stock of stored potatoes is getting exhausted and therefore the government has decided to import to boost availability till the new crop arrives from January-end. India produced 44.3 million tonnes of potatoes in 2013-14 crop year, down 2.3 per cent from the previous year.
Dhirendra Kumar

Dhirendra Kumar

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