Potato farmers hard done by



Although farmers and cold room operators suffer losses due to the collapse of potato prices, consumers see no benefit.

The price of the tuber fell to less than 2.5 Tk per kilogram at the doors of the cold stores, while the inhabitants of the city of Dhaka must have at least 15-20 Tk per kilo at the retailer.

This suggests that 85% of prices paid by end consumers go into the pockets of middlemen – not industrious farmers.

Asked about the huge price difference, a Gopibag kitchen market retailer said that he kept Tk 1-2 every kilogram as a margin. The retailer, who asked not to be named, yesterday asked Tk 15 for a kilogram of potato.

Mohammed Sohag Bepari, who was seen selling potatoes in five kilogram batches for Tk 60-65 at the wholesale vegetable market of Karwan Bazar on Wednesday, said he had bought a bag of 80 kilos for

Tk 530 from a wholesale depot located several hundred meters from their store.

Later, Bepari and his father set prices for the potato by adding operational costs that include monthly rents for space, electricity bills and other expenses . He estimated approximately Tk 2-3 per kilogram as cost.

"How could we meet the needs of our family if we do not make Tk 2 a profit per kilogram or 100-150 Tk per bag?" Says Bepari, a native of Munshiganj, one of the main potato producing districts.

In Munshiganj, the vegetable sold to Tk 360-400 a bag at the doors of the cold storage warehouse on Wednesday.

Traders said potato prices rose slightly for damage to plantations in some areas because of heavy rains early last week, reports our correspondent from Munshiganj.

In addition to paying the cost of labor, traders must pay 50 Czech crowns to transport each bag of potatoes to the Karwan Bazar wholesale market. The wholesaler's commission adds to that, he said.

"By making too much profit, retailers have ruined farmers and us," said Md Mosharaf Hossain, president of the Bangladesh Cold Storage Association (BCSA).

A few days ago, a retailer had asked for 20 takas a kilo, he said, while accusing the government of the lack of a market surveillance mechanism.

"Traders make higher profits when we suffer losses," said Sajedur Rahman, a Khetlal farmer in Joypurhat, who had to sell 50 bags of potatoes stockpiled for 200 Tk on December 7 due to A drop in demand. the arrival of new crops.

Farmers bagged 1.02 crore of potatoes this year, up 8% from the previous year. According to the BCSA, 53 tonnes of milk were stored in the cold stores, mainly in the districts of Munshiganj and the north of the country.

Until last week, 31 tons of vegetables were sold and the BCSA fears that 15 million tons of potatoes will remain unsold this year.

Rahman grew the potato on more than two acres last season. He stored a total of 700 sacks of potatoes in the cold store as well as 350 bags produced in his own farm for sale out of season.

The maximum that he got for each bag is 950 Tk against 1,200 Tk.

"Our backbones are broken," he said, citing that his total potato loss would be Tk 2.5 lakh this year.

The BCSA attributed the strong production and lack of demand for exports to the accumulation of unsold stocks this year. He estimates that the total loss would exceed 12,000 crores Tk this year.

Due to falling prices, many farmers and traders struggle to pay rent for cold stores and repay loans.

"Some of our colleagues have not even taken out their potato cold warehouses because prices are lower than storage costs," said Gulzar Rahman, another Joypurhat farmer.

The BCSA stated that there was no choice but to discard the unsold potato since there are only three weeks left for vegetable marketing.

Up to 80 million tonnes of potatoes are consumed in the domestic market annually and the government was aware of overproduction, according to the president of the BCSA. "A decision was needed for the sector."

The government could have bought surplus potatoes to distribute under social protection programs or among the Rohingya to protect farmers from losses, Hossain said.

"Both farmers and consumers could also benefit from market surveillance," he added.



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