Potato price hike: Find out who is responsible 

After eggs, now the price of potatoes is on the rise. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), potatoes were sold at Tk 42 per kg in different markets of Dhaka yesterday. Last year at this time, the price of potatoes was Tk 24 per kg. Will the government provide an answer for why the price of potatoes is increasing? Or will they continue to attempt to protect the syndicate this time? Because there is no shortage of potatoes in the country. 

Prothom Alo's report states that, with the current amount of potatoes in the country's cold storage, it will last well until the second week of December. Meanwhile, new potatoes will appear in the market. Consequently, there is no cause for a shortage. According to the Bangladesh Cold Storage Association, 8.5 million metric tonnes of potatoes were produced in the country in the fiscal year 2022-23.

According to the Department of Agriculture Extension, this amount is 11.2 million tonnes. The demand for potatoes in the country is 9 million tonnes. It is clear that there is no shortage of potatoes. During a press conference on Sunday, the association of cold storage owners complained that some unscrupulous traders are increasing the price of potatoes through manipulation. 

President of the association, Mostafa Azad Chowdhury, stated during the press conference that potatoes began arriving in cold storage after May 20. At that time, the price of potatoes in the cold storage was Tk 26 to 27 per kg, and potatoes were being sold at this price. However, from the last week of May to the first week of September, the price of potatoes has increased by Tk 10 per kg. This price hike, in their words, is 'undesirable.' 

The question arises: Is the government showing sympathy towards the syndicates that control nearly all food products, including onions, green chillies, eggs, potatoes, and even green coconuts? Is the government indirectly facilitating these parties to profit? Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi's recent statements in parliament regarding syndicates appear to be nothing more than a helpless surrender to their power despite assurances from the highest levels of the state to take actions against these syndicates. 

We are growing weary of the excuse that Bangladesh is grappling with rising food prices in the global market due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported a decline in the global food price index to a two-year low in August.

Despite the increases in rice and sugar prices, most other food products saw relative decrease in prices in the previous month. While rice prices reached a 15-year high following India's export restrictions, the FAO indicated that overall prices for dairy products, vegetable oils, meat, and cereals had fallen. 

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Just yesterday, Prothom Alo reported, "Food price inflation in Bangladesh is the highest in 11 and a half years, and people's suffering has increased." The report reveals that individuals from various social classes and professions are enduring immense hardship due to this inflation. Not only have the lives of city dwellers become miserable, but people outside Dhaka are also experiencing unbearable suffering. 

When the planning minister Abdul Mannan was asked about the food inflation, he responded, "He who understands the game of snakes can control inflation." It is time to cease seeking excuses and instead find remedies to alleviate people's hardships. This is the government’s responsibility. 

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