Govt fixes potato prices
Govt fixes potato pricesFile photo

The government has fixed the prices of potatoes at three stages of its sales amid public criticism over soaring prices of daily essentials.

Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) took the decision on Wednesday.

It has fixed prices of potatoes Tk 30 per kg at retail level, Tk 25 at wholesale level and Tk 23 from cold storage.

The DAM said the law enforcement and consumer rights authorities will take action in case of failure to maintain prices. Letters have been sent to all the deputy commissioners across the country in this regard.

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Earlier, at the end of September, the government fixed the wholesale price of medium and fine rice. The price was fixed at a meeting of rice mill owners with the food ministry.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, the production cost of one kg of potato this year was Tk 8.40. Around 10.9 million tonnes of potatoes were produced in the country.

The annual demand of potatoes in the country is around 7.7 million tones while two million tonnes of potatoes are preserved as seed.

However, refuting the DAE estimation, the Bangladesh Cold Storage Association said 8.5 million tonnes of potatoes were produced in the country this year. Currently there are four million tonnes of potatoes in their cold storages. Of the amount, 1.5 million tonnes are preserved as seed while the country needs around 800,000 tonnes of potatoes every month.

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Mohammad Yousuf, director general of the agriculture marketing department, told Prothom Alo that the farmers sold their potatoes at Tk 10-12 per kg this year. It cannot be more than 20 taka.

After all these, potato price from the cold storage has been fixed at Tk 23 per kg. The prices have been fixed at reasonable level at the wholesale and retail levels.

The cold storage association has said the mill owners are owners of the rice kept in the mills. But cold storage owners do not own potatoes kept in cold storages, they just get rent. As a result, cold storage owners do not have the right to sell the potatoes.

Bangladesh Cold Storage Association president Musharraf Hossain told Prothom Alo that the production of potatoes was much lower than that has been publicised by the government in the last two years.

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The farmers faced losses for several reasons during that time and a huge amount of potatoes were damaged. Then no one stood by the farmers and cold storage owners. If traders can sell potatoes at Tk 23, cold storage owners will have no problem. They are ready to cooperate with the government.

Potatoes have been selling at retail market between Tk 50 and 55 per kg for the last few days. The prices of other vegetables have also gone up. People with low income bracket, lower middle class and middle class are struggling to buy their daily necessities.