Kolkata: Retail potato price touched an all time high of Rs 45/kg while onion price rose to Rs 70/kg on Monday (November 23), burning holes in the pockets of consumers at a time when the city is reeling from an unprecedented financial crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, for the first time Bengal’s monthly consumption of potatoes, according to agriculture marketing department, is down by more than 1lakh tonnes from 5.5 to 4.25 lakh tonnes. However, the premium category of potatoes was sold for Rs 50-Rs 55 in the city market with hardly any buyer.

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According to vegetable vendors, higher potato price has prevented from cooling off the price of other vegetables. Onion, which cooled off a bit and stabilised at Rs 50 a kg, is again on an upswing.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee complained that the prices of daily necessities are increasing rapidly due to the new Agriculture Act. Common people are suffering due to the price hike on such essential commodities.

The onion, on the other hand, had a sharp upswing, taking the retail price closed to Rs 70 in most of the markets. The onion wholesale price even a fortnight ago, was Rs 1,700 per 40kg bag (Rs 42.6 a kg). The retail price dropped to Rs 50 a kg. On Monday, the price rose to Rs 2,300 a bag (Rs 57.5 a kg). Naturally, the retail price rose to Rs 70 a kg. 

Since onions are getting a better price in south India over east India, much of the onion is going there. Koley and Posta markets are receiving only two trucks, compared to 15 to 20 trucks a day. The huge mismatch of demand and supply is jacking up the price unusually.

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Malay Acharya, a private company employee, whose salary was reduced by 50% because of the pandemic said, “We are having a tough time running our families with prices of daily essentials constantly spiralling out of our budget.”

Kamal Dey, member of the task force responsible for controlling prices of essential commodities said, “Under the current regime of new agriculture policy, a section of potato traders took full advantage by hoarding potatoes and selling them when a time when price rises sharply.”