Guwahati, Monday, April 28, 2014
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Increasing prices of potato causing concern
STAFF REPORTER
 GUWAHATI, April 27 – The increasing prices of potatoes in the wholesale as well as retail markets of Guwahati have concerned the common people already reeling under the price rise of all essential commodities.

The upward swing of potato price has become more alarming after the unprecedented hike in the ubiquitous kitchen staple during October last year. The bulk traders blamed it on the price hike at the source of production due to scanty rainfall. However, considering the ongoing general elections, speculation of the ‘political impact’ on the rates of all essential commodities is also doing the rounds in the market.

Officially, the rate of potato in the wholesale market in Guwahati is between Rs 1,350 to Rs 1,500 per quintal. However, some retail traders who did the bulk purchase today, bought it at the rate of Rs 1,600-1,700 per quintal, posing a question mark on the district administration’s price control mechanism.

According to the office-bearers of the Guwahati Potato Onion Merchants’ Association, the rates of both potato and onion are likely to remain high throughout this year due to a fall in the production of both the commodities at the source.

Currently, North Bengal is supplying a major portion of potatoes to the State. Due to a fall in the demand as well as most of the local markets of State doing a direct purchase from the source, potatoes are coming to the State by road, adding to the transportation cost. Fall in potato production in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh during the peak season also contributed to the price rise.

Ruling out any chance of scarcity of potato or onion in the market here, sources from the supply department said that the market of Guwahati was under constant vigil. “Our teams went for market inspection ahead of the polls here, but there was enough stock in the market,” the sources added.

The common people, however, also complained about the quality of potatoes available in the markets. “The potatoes from North Bengal and those from Shillong have much difference in size and quality. However, in the absence of any mechanism to determine the rate of commodities for the benefit of consumers, shopkeepers are selling even the small and damaged potatoes at a high rate. Also, there is no provision of bringing uniformity in the prices of essential commodities like onion and potato, and ultimately, the consumers end up paying more,” said Nayan Deka, a consumer.

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