Friday, 3 December, 2021

Farmers deprived of fair potato prices

Lack of marketing facilities blamed

  • ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman
  • 13 November, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Despite bumper production of potato, the growers of the country are being deprived of fair prices due to lack of marketing facilities.

Potato is one of the major food items in Bangladesh and per-person potato consumption rose to 12 times more than that it was in 1980.

The country produced only 0.9 million tonnes potato in 1980. Potato production increased to 8.205 million in 2011 and 10.6128 million in 2021, according to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).

Farm economist Prof ASM Golam Hafiz told Daily Sun that potato farmers are facing problem every year in getting fair price of their produce.

“Despite bumper production, the famers of country are not getting fair prices in the absence of proper marketing facilities,” he said adding that the government should increase marketing facilities including export of potato.

Potato production has increased abundantly due to suitable weather conditions and cultivation of high yielding varieties of the crop.

Bangladesh is the seventh potato producing country in the world and ranks second after rice in terms of production and are the third most important food crop after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption in Bangladesh, according to FAO statistic 2020.

Country has been witnessing huge production of the vegetable for the last ten years, but its export has not increased in proportion to its production, the professor said.

Low prices and unsold potato at warehouses may cause Tk40 billion losses.

Farmers and cold storage owners may face Tk 40 billion losses this year as potatoes in huge quantity lie unsold at warehouses in the country, said Mozammel Hoque Choudhory, secretary of Bangladesh Cold Storage Association (BCSA).

Around 14 lakh tonnes of potato are lying unsold at the cold storages till now this year while new potato varieties have already started to appear in the market.

Farmers said they have to count huge losses after selling their potato from the cold storage at current prices. Many farmers are not taking potatoes from the cold storage in fear of losses.

The country’s potato output was 8.205 million tonnes in FY 2012, 8.603 million tonnes in FY 2013, 8.950 million tonnes in FY 2014, 9.254 million tonnes in FY 2015, 9.464 million tonnes in FY 2016, 11.333 million tonnes in FY 2017, 10.317 million tonnes in FY 2018, 10.949 million tonnes in FY 2019, 10.918 million tonnes in FY 2020 and 10.6128 million tonnes in FY 2021, according to DAE.

Export of potato was not adequate against the surplus production as the country is yet to explore market abroad.

Export of potato was only 0.0189 million in FY 2012, 0.0285 million tonnes in FY 2013, 0.1029 million tonnes in FY 2014,  0.0905 million tonnes in FY 2015, 0.0402 million tonnes in FY 2016, 0.0556 million tonnes in FY 2017, 0.0535 million tonnes in FY 2018, 0.0350 million tonnes in FY 2019, 0.0454 million tonnes in FY 2020 and 0.0560 million tonnes till June, in FY 2021, according to DAE.

However, the surplus of potatoes was 3.40 lakh tonnes in FY 2019-20 which is much lower than the previous years, according to a research done by the Bangladesh Journal of Agricultural Economics.

In FY 2018-19, the surplus potato was 5.94 lakh tonnes, in FY 2017-18 it was 8.33 lakh tonnes, in 2016-17 it was 13.85 tonnes, in FY 2015-16 it was 11.15 tonnes , according to the research.