Around 15 lakh bags of potato, each containing 80 kg, remains unsold in the cold storages of the district as frequent blockades and hartals enforced by BNP-led 18-party alliance during the last couple of months badly hampered trading of the popular winter vegetable.
Unlike other years, the farmer and traders in the district, who deposited the potatoes in 33 cold storages with a total capacity of 50 lakh bags, did not withdraw the whole amount by December, as market prices remained low amid the hindrance to marketing due to transportation problem.
Now arrival of early variety potato in the market has added to the situation and both the cold storage owners and the traders are facing huge losses.
“I stocked 1,000 bags of Granola variety of potato at Foyezunnesa Cold Storage at Deuti in Pirgachha upazila. Cost of an 80-kg bag of potato including purchase, storage and transportation stands at Tk 900 but the current market price is only Tk 80 to 100 per bag. If I sell 1000 bags of stored potatoes at the present rate, I will count loss of around Tk 8 lakh," said Nasir Uddin Liton, a big potato farmer of Pirgachha upazila in the district.
Firoz Ahmed, accounts officer of Kishan Cold Storage Ltd in Rangpur city, said they stored a total of 1,17,000 bags of potato this year but 28,000 bags remained unsold.
"In normal situation buyers from different districts come to our cold storage and we release around 1200-1500 bags of potato daily. But the process was badly disturbed due to political unrest," he added.
Mosaddeque Hossen Bablu, owner of Northern Cold Storage Ltd, said all of their stocks would be cleared within December if the situation was normal.
Talking to this correspondent, a number of potato farmers and traders in the district said they did not lift their stocks from the cold storages due to very low market price.
The potato traders generally withdraw their stocks from the cold storages during September-December every year as the prices remain high that time.
But this year, countrywide political unrest during the last couple of months created an uneasy situation in the market, said Mostafa Azad Chowdhury Babu, member of Bangladesh Cold Storage Association and managing director of Motahar Group of Industries, also former vice-president of FBCCI.