Despite the government's claim that farmers have produced a record 1 crore 4 lakh tonnes of potatoes this year, the price of potatoes is not falling in the market. As a result, people with low and fixed incomes who are under high inflation pressure have to pay extra. Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) said that the price of potatoes in the markets of Dhaka increased by Tk 5 to a maximum of Tk 45 per kg within a week.
The current price of potatoes is 57 percent higher than last year. According to the concerned, traders and farmers store potatoes in cold storage for winter sale. They gradually released the potatoes from their stock to the market. After planting potatoes in September, it takes 90 days to harvest them. After the harvest in January, the supply of potatoes to the market is assured for the next few months.
Those concerned said that potatoes stored in the freezer would be released by June. So that there are old potatoes in the market until the next season's potatoes are harvested. This time of the year the demand for potatoes increases due to high prices of other vegetables. According to the annual production statistics of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), potato production in the country is 2.83 percent higher than the previous year.
According to the market people, the annual demand for potatoes in the country is about 1 crore tonnes.
Tajul Islam Patwari, director of the field department of the Department of Agriculture, told The Daily Star, "This year, a record amount of potatoes has been produced in the history of the country. At present there is no shortage of potatoes in the country.
He blamed the lack of market monitoring by responsible agencies like the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) as the reason for the high prices of potatoes. However, Bangladesh Cold Storage Association (BCSA) disagreed with the information of the government and said that the production of potatoes will not be more than 8 million tons this time.
BCSA president Mustafa Azad Chowdhury said, 'We do not agree with the official information. About 20 percent of the cold storage capacity is lying vacant.'
His question is, 'If the production of potatoes is more, then where are these extra potatoes?'
He said that traders are giving up potato stock. They know farmers are out of stock.
Last Tuesday (August 29, 2023), some shopkeepers of Agargaon raw market were seen taking the price of potatoes up to Tk 50 per kg.
Shopkeeper Jewel Molla said that he is buying potatoes at the rate of Tk 42 per kg from Karwan Bazar and selling them at Tk 45.
Nasir Uddin, a wholesaler at Karwan Bazar, one of the largest raw markets in Dhaka, said, 'A sack of potatoes weighing 65 kg was sold for Tk 2,470 last 1/2 week ago.'
The price of potatoes has also increased in the northern part of the country. Most of the country's potatoes are produced there. Especially the traders of Railbazarhat and Bahadurbazar of Dinajpur said that the price of potatoes was stable in the wholesale and retail market until last Eid-ul-Azha. Just before Eid, potatoes were sold at Tk 22 to Tk 25 per kg in district towns. After that, the price increased to 35 rupees. Since then the prices of potatoes have been increasing both at the retail and wholesale levels. Recently, the price of potatoes has increased by Tk.5 per kg.
Suman Ali, a wholesaler at Railbazarhat in Dinajpur, said, 'The price of daily necessities fluctuates mainly due to supply.'
He also said that last Monday (August 28, 2023) he sold potatoes up to Tk 45 per kg.
Shafiqul Islam, another wholesaler of Dinajpur, said that the price has increased due to the manipulation of big traders, and many people are forced to buy potatoes because the prices of other vegetables are high. As a result, the consumption of potatoes in the country has increased.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) President Gholam Rahman attributed this to the lack of market monitoring and the excessive profit mentality of traders.
He also said, 'When the production of potatoes is high, then its increased price is not acceptable.'
DNCRP Director General AHM Shafiquzzaman said, 'There is a lack of manpower for market monitoring.'
He also said, 'It is difficult to monitor all the products of the raw market. We take immediate action when the price of a product becomes abnormal.'
"We don't have market price or production cost information. Directorate of Agriculture Marketing should take action in this regard.'