Govt sets $450 a tonne MEP for potato to curb price rise

The government today imposed a minimum export price (MEP) of $450 per tonne on potatoes to prevent their export and augment domestic supply of the staple in the domestic market in order to check rising prices.

Exporters will not be allowed to ship out consignments of potatoes, both fresh and frozen, priced below $450 per tonne with immediate effect, according to a notification by the directorate general of foreign trade issued on Thursday.

"Export of potatoes is permitted subject of MEP of $450 per tonne," the notification said.

The potato crop this year is estimated to be lower by 13 per cent compared to the previous year due to adverse weather conditions, including hailstorm in some parts of the country.

With the government of West Bengal, the top potato producing state in the country, planning to impose a ban on potato sale to other states in the face of rising prices, prices may spiral in other eastern and north-eastern states.

Prices of potatoes and onions have been rising recently. The wholesale price of potatoes has risen over 30 per cent for three months till May.

India exported 0.22 million tonnes of potatoes worth around Rs251 crore in 2013-14 against 0.16 million tonnes worth around Rs148 crore exported in the previous year.

Export constitutes miniscule proportion of 42.4 million tonnes of potatoes produced in 2012-13.

Earlier this month, the government had imposed a MEP of $300 a tonne on onions in an attempt to check food inflation.