Contract potato growers protest breach of accord
Over a hundred 'contract growers' of Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts blocked Debiganj-Nilphamari road at Debiganj upazila headquarters for two hours on Thursday as food processing company Bombay Agro Limited has declined to buy potato from them as per previous agreement.
At around 4:00pm, the potato farmers besieged the office of Bombay Agro Limited and scattered over one hundred maunds of potato on Debiganj-Nilphamari highway, keeping the road blocked for two hours.
Following an agreement signed with Bombay Agro Limited authority, the potato farmers cultivated Carage, Lady Roseta and Estarix varieties of potato, taking the seeds for high prices from the company, the speakers said at a rally in front of the company office.
As per agreement, the company is to buy potato from their 'contract growers' at Tk 13 per kg but now the former is declining to comply with the agreement upon lame excuses as the present market price of potato in the harvesting period is lower than the contract rate, they said.
If the company does not buy the potato as per agreement, the contract growers of Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts will count huge losses.
In that case, they will not be able to repay the loan that they took from Mercantile Bank Ltd to bear the cultivation cost including high prices of the seeds from the company, the speakers said.
They warned of launching a tougher movement if the company does not take positive decision in this regard within a day or two.
Contact growers Shafiqul Islam, Shamsul Alam and Mosharaf Hossain and Workers Party leader Abdul Haque addressed the rally.
Later the growers placed a memorandum to the managing director of Bombay Agro Limited through its local office.
Admitting deviation from the agreement, Tarazul Islam, manager of Bombay Agro Limited, told this correspondent, "We have received 300 tonnes of potato from the contract growers. Now we want to buy potato from them at Tk 8 per kg. The growers are bringing potatoes with bellow 18 per cent dry content that is not up to the mark for preparing our food items. So our authority has reduced the buying price."
At least 155 growers of Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts signed agreement with the company to cultivate their suggested potato varieties on 327 acres of land.
When contacted, upazila Chairman Abdul Malek Chisti said, "I suggested Bombay Agro Limited authority to resolve the matter through discussion with the growers."