• Saturday, March 07, 2015

Potato farmers weighed down by losses

Sohel Parvez

Vegetable farmers are still facing slumping prices amid a supply glut, after incurring losses for more than two months due to political troubles.
The growers in the northern districts of Bogra and Rangpur are left with no option but to sell potatoes for as low as Tk 2 a kilogram to wholesalers, down from Tk 5 three weeks ago, said Mohammad Shah Alam, a farmer in Bogra.
In Dhaka, potatoes retailed for Tk 8-12 a kilogram yesterday, down from Tk 14-22 a month ago, according to data from the Department of Agricultural Marketing. The price is 54 percent lower than a year ago.
"Supply is abundant. Potatoes are being harvested everywhere in northern Bangladesh. That's why prices have fallen fast," Alam said.
Prices of the widely consumed item would not haven fall to such a low if there were no strikes and blockades in the past months, he added.
“Prices are below acceptable levels," said Mohammad Babu Sarker, a Bogra farmer, who sold a maund (40kg) of potatoes for Tk 80 on Sunday.
"I faced losses selling cauliflowers and cabbages at throwaway prices due to repeated shutdowns last month. Now I am incurring losses in potato cultivation," said Sarker, adding that his net loss for growing potatoes on a bigha of land stood at Tk 1,500.

In addition, potatoes that were grown last year are also being released from the cold stores, further pushing prices down.
Moniruzzaman, a potato farmer in Rangpur, said potatoes were stuck in storage for the political situation. Cold storage operators in the north are releasing their stocks, selling a kilogram for Tk 1.5.
Md Jasim Uddin, chairman of Bangladesh Cold Storage Association, said some cold storages still hold last year's potato. The amount would be nearly 1 lakh tonnes, according to the association.
Farmers have planted potatoes on 4.8 lakh hectares this season, according to Department of Agricultural Extension estimates.
Last year, potatoes were grown on 4.44 lakh hectares with production reaching 86.03 lakh tonnes, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
DAE aims to ensure a production of 86.5 lakh tonnes of the plant this year.

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Last modified: 12:25 am Wednesday, January 29, 2014

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