“Over the last fortnight, a 45 kg sack of potatoes from The Nilgiris cost about Rs 1,500. However, due to rain and poor yield, the arrival has dropped to barely 15 tonnes a day against the usual 75 tonnes. This has resulted in steep hike in price to about Rs 2,300 per sack,” said Raja Mohammed, a potato wholesale trader in Mettupalayam. Traders said potato price has been fluctuating, going up to Rs 2,700 per sack during the lockdown due to constraints in transportation. Potatoes from Dhimbam in Erode district and Gujarat are priced lower and their arrival is more. But traders say The Nilgiris potatoes are preferred for their longer shelf life and better taste. Besides the rains, another key reason for the soaring price is the farmers in The Nilgiris shifting to other vegetables, resulting in a considerable reduction in acreage under potato cultivation.
“The area of potato cultivation has come down to 30,000 acres from about 50,000 acres. Farmers took to cultivating other vegetables expecting better returns, but the price of potato too has gone up this time,” said Thumboor I Bhojan, president of Hill District Small Growers Welfare Association. With rains receding, farmers have begun harvesting potato, which would increase arrivals and thus bring the price down, said traders in Mettupalayam, which has over 75 potato mandis. Besides potato, the price of carrots, another hill crop, has gone above Rs 100 per kg.