Potato farmers are facing a huge loss due to its low prices despite a surplus production in the country.
Experts said the bumper production of potato for a couple of years and a lack of adequate market facilities are responsible for lower prices of the crop.The country’s potato output was 113.327 lakh tonnes in 2017 against the target of 96 lakh metric tonnes.
The production was 94.74 lakh tonnes in 2016 and 92.54 lakh tonnes in 2015, according to official figures.
However, demand for potato in the country is around 70 lakh tonnes while 10 lakh tonnes are being used as seeds.
Every year farmers make profits after producing early variety of potatoes but this season they are not getting fair prices of their produces mainly due to a huge supply on the market.
Heavy rainfall affected early varieties of potato cultivation and delayed the production, taking the opportunity that businessmen imported early varieties of potato from India and sold those at kitchen markets.
Bangladesh Potato Exporters Association (BPEA) Sheikh Abdul Kader told the daily that farmers are producing a huge quantity of potatoes, but are not getting fair prices due to lack of market in local and foreign countries.Other counties give different facilities to export their potato, but Bangladesh did not give any facilities even though they could not introduce export-quality potato varieties in the country, he said.
“Every year farmers cultivate potatoes as they can grow more two crops after producing potatoes that also increase its production,” he also said.
If the government will not introduce quality varieties of potato in the country, potato export will shrinks further, he added.
In the first seven months of 2017, about 45,000 metric tonnes of potato were exported.
A total of 40,230 tonnes were exported in the 2015-16 fiscal year, 94,614 tonnes in the 2014-15 fiscal year, 103,000 tonnes in the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to Hortex Foundation.
The lack of availability of export-quality potato they are not exporting enough potato though the country produce surplus, said the exporter.
Different varieties of potatoes are selling at very low prices at growers’ ends of the northern districts. Potatoes are selling at Tk 5 to Tk 7.5 a kg in Nilphamari on Saturday.
While potato price was Tk 14-16 a kg on Sunday at kitchen markets in the capital, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
Sujauddin, a farmer from Nilphamari, said production cost of potatoes per kg was 6 to 8, but they are selling it at lower prices at local market.
He said cold storage owners did not buy the potato this time as last season price of potato was fault drastically.
“Last year cold storage owners witnessed huge looses for this they are not spending their buyers to buy potato,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) set a target to produce 100 lakh tonnes from 5 lakh hectares of land.