Story in: October-2023

Story: The potato which the farmer used to sell at Tk 10 per kg is now being bought at Tk 52!

The potato which the farmer used to sell at Tk 10 per kg is now being bought at Tk 52!

The price of potatoes in the market has become very uncontrolled. In the last month, the price of potatoes at the retail level has increased by about 15 percent to Tk 45 to Tk 50 per kg. Which is the highest in almost an era.

During the season, traders bought potatoes from farmers at an average of Tk 10 per kg. After keeping these potatoes in the freezer for a couple of months, the sale starts at Tk 28-30 per kg. At present, the potato is being wholesaled at an average of 44 taka per kg from the cold store. It is retailing in the market for 48 to 52 taka. Due to the increase in prices, many farmers themselves are unable to buy potatoes for consumption.

The media spoke to potato farmers, traders, agricultural officials, workers, and cold store managers to know how potatoes of Tk 10 per kg are being sold at Tk 50 to 52. According to them, the cost of potato production per kg to the farmers is about Tk 9. From the middle of last February to the first week of March, the farmers picked potatoes and sold them from the land at the rate of Tk 10-11 per kg. Last March, traders filled 50 kg sacks of potatoes and kept them in the freezer. Each bag had to be bought for Tk 55. Tk 300 per sack to be paid for cold storage. The transport cost of each kg of potatoes including labor is Tk 2. All in all, per kg of potatoes, traders have incurred a cost of Tk 20. And the cost at the farmer level is 18 rupees. At present, the wholesale price of that potato variety is Rs. 44 per kg and the retail price is Rs. 48 per kg. But depending on the standard, a kg is being sold up to Tk 52.

Despite the concern of the buyers and the monitoring of the concerned parties including consumer rights, the increase in the price of potatoes cannot be controlled. In the space of one month, the price of potatoes has increased by 10 rupees per kg in the wholesale and retail markets. That is, the price has increased by Tk 500 per bag of 50 kg. Even though there is sufficient supply, there is dissatisfaction and various questions about why the price is increasing, there are many questions among the consumers of Munshiganj, the top potato-producing district of the country. In the complaint, due to manipulation of middlemen and syndicates, there is a crisis of insufficient supply of potatoes from cold storage to the market. Through this, the price is increased. In this, on the one hand, the pockets of traders are getting heavy due to excessive profits and the common consumers are suffering.

It can be seen in some markets of the district, currently, potatoes are being sold at Tk 48 to 52 in the retail market. 38-39 in the wholesale market. Last month the price in the retail market was Tk 38-40 and in the wholesale market, it was Tk 27-28. According to the investigation and the information of the concerned parties, this year in Munshiganj, per hectare of potato production has cost an average of Tk 3 lakh 13 thousand. Production per hectare is 30.75 tons or 30 thousand 750 kg. That is, Tk 10 to 11 per kilogram of potato production has been spent in the field this year. The total cost of transportation and cold storage is Tk 16-17, which consumers have to buy at the price of Tk 50 in the market. And at the beginning of the season, traders from the farmer level bought potatoes at Tk 700 to Tk 750 per sack, those sacks of potatoes are now selling at Tk 1,900 to Tk 1,950. After covering the cost of cold storage, their profit per bag is between Tk 900 and 1000, that is, if someone stores 1000 bags of potatoes, the profit amount in the current market will be 10 lakh taka, and if he stores 10000 bags, the profit amount will be in crores.

Although the businessmen talk about the crisis, according to the information of Munshiganj District Agricultural Extension Directorate, more than 1 million tons of potatoes have been produced this season in this district. Still, 2 lakh 56 thousand 560 tons of potatoes are stored in the cold storage in the district. Out of which 1 lakh 78 thousand 980 tons of eating potatoes and 77 thousand 581 tons of seed potatoes.

Traders said, that currently, farmers do not have more potatoes. If there are 200,000 sacks of potatoes in a cold store, then 20,000 sacks will be given to farmers and the rest to traders. As earlier potatoes were marketed from cold storage, now it is done differently through syndicates. Earlier traders used to market potatoes as they wanted from the cold store, now it is being done regularly. Where earlier four truckloads of potatoes from a cold store were used by four traders to go to the market every day, now two truckloads by two traders go to the market. As a result, the price is increasing as the supply is less than the demand in the market. And because of the abnormal increase in prices, the farmer who produces potatoes now does not have potatoes on his plate! -Editor


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