Bangladesh: Potato price fall worries farmers
Potato growers of the district are worried that they might not be able to recover the production cost due to sudden drop in the prices of the vegetable in the ongoing harvesting season.
Potato price dropped to Tk 6 per kg from Tk 8 per kg, depending on variety and quality, in around three weeks, farmers and traders said.
Now, each kg of diamond variety potato is selling for around Tk 7 per kg, while it was Tk 13 about three weeks ago.
Besides, each kg of granola and cardinal varieties of potato is selling for around Tk 6 at the farmers’ level.
During a recent visit to different villages in the district, this correspondent saw frustration on the faces of potato farmers due to sudden drop in prices of their produce. Many farmers expressed their anxiety about meeting the expenditure for cultivating upcoming crops, and some growers are wondering how to repay their loans.
Usually, small and marginal farmers take loan from NGOs or local money lenders to meet the expenses of cultivating crops. Many of them take fertilizers and pesticides from local shops with a promise to pay the money after harvesting the crops. After harvesting, they repay the loans and use the rest of the money for meeting their daily needs and cultivating crops.
“I have cultivated diamond variety on 50 decimals of land spending about Tk 35,000. I could not recover my expenditure as I sold potatoes from the field at Tk 7.50 per kg. Traders asked me to sell potato from my field for Tk 13 per kg about three weeks ago, but I didn’t agree at that time, hoping for a price hike,” said Hiten Devnath, 30, of Yakubpur village in Sadar upazila
“I will get around 100 maunds (one maund = 40 kg) of potatoes at production cost of around Tk 8.75 per kg, but I have to sell it at a rate below the production cost,” he added.
Dabir Uddin, 70, of Sabdal village said he has cultivated cardinal variety of potato on one acre of land spending about Tk 70,000. “I cannot sell my potatoes for even Tk 6 per kg due to shortage of buyers. I have to incur huge losses as the price will not increase,” he added.
“I took loan from a local NGO to cultivate potato and it will be tough for me to repay it. It will also be very hard to manage the expenses for pumpkin cultivation in the upcoming season due to the loss I incurred,” he said.
Like Dabir Uddin, several farmers also expressed their anxiety about how to repay their loans, or manage expenses for cultivation of the next crop.
Potato farmers of the area cultivate pumpkin or maize after reaping potato, they said.
Md Salauddin, 45, of Kawran Bazar in Dhaka, who buys potatoes from villages in Sadar upazila to bring it to Dhaka, said he sends only one or two truckloads of potatoes to Dhaka in a week due to low demand.
District Department of Agriculture Extension Deputy Director Maududul Islam said potato was cultivated on 23,742 hectares of land against the target of 23,350 hectares, with production target of 4.67, lakh tonnes of potato.
Farmers have reaped potatoes from 18,397 hectares and got around 3.66 lakh tonnes till now, he said. If the farmers have to sell their produce below the production cost, they might lose interest in cultivating potato again, he added.