Durban - The price of potatoes is expected to increase in the next four weeks – and there is a chance of even more hikes in December.

But despite the spike in spuds, low-family households are still expected to continue buying the popular vegetables, because apart from being an important form of starch, putting potatoes in the pot enables stews to thicken up, Mervyn Abrahams, the director of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa), said on Wednesday.

He was commenting on a report by Absa Agri-business which has warned about the possible potato price increase (going to levels of between R5-R6/kg), because of supply being insufficient to meet the demand.

“Early season rains are still pending and dam levels are low. Consequently, the lack of sufficient water for irrigation may impact negatively on yields,” said Absa’s agricultural economist, Kababo Takadi.

Potato plantings in the eastern Free State needed rain, while some producers in the Highveld were planting less because of the uncertainty of rain.

Abrahams said potatoes were one of the top 10 items in consumers’ shopping trolleys that Pacsa tracked, and potatoes had sky-rocketed over the past year.

He felt that despite the increases, people would still continue to buy potatoes – but cut down on other vegetables to save money.