Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

Stored potato: Worry for Joypurhat farmers, traders

Posted in Agriculture, Bangladesh by Sherpa Hossainy on October 30, 2011

Published in The Independent on 26 October

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

Farmers and traders of Joypurhat, the largest potato growing area of the country, are struggling to sell their produce stored in cold storages, even at lower prices than usual due to  diminishing demand.

Even after five months of storing potatoes, an approximate stock of 70,000 tonnes in 13 cold storages in the district is still waiting to be sold because of dearth of buyers.

According to officials at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), this year around 36,500 hectares of land have been brought under potato cultivation, where Cardinal, Diamond, Granola and other varieties of potato were cultivated. Due to favourable climate and low cost of fertilisers, potato output reached 922,000 tonnes, which is 150,000 tonnes more than a season earlier.

But farmers and traders are in trouble with the potatoes that they stored in cold storages amid continuous downfall in prices and drop in demand in the market. Cold storage owners feared that it might not be possible to clear out the stock if the situation prevails, which will severely affect potato production next season.

Farmers sorting out potato in a cold storage in Joypurhat

Earlier in the season, amid a gradual downfall of potato prices, traders started storing potato in cold storages besides the farmers and the cold storage owners also took advantage. The rent for every sack (84 Kg) of potato last year was Tk 150-200, which spiked to Tk 250-300 this season.

Even though the rent was high, all 13 cold storages stored more than their capacity amid rising demands before the stipulated time. The 13 cold storages in the district can preserve 103,045 tonnes of potato, but upon farmers’ request they stored 110,000 tonnes, the cold storage owners said. Potatoes are usually stored in cold storages from May to December, whereas some 40 per cent are sold within September.

But as the prices and demands are low, cold storage owners became unable to supply potato from the cold storages.

“Currently all the cold storages in Joypurhat still have 70 to 80 per cent of the potatoes. It would be difficult to clear all the potato within a month,” said Monowar Hossain, manager of North Pole Cold Storage. The Northpole Cold Storage is storing 135,000 sacks instead of its 105,000 capacity.

“We stored 140,000 tonnes of potato this year. Around this time 50 per cent of potato should have been cleared out but this year no one is interested to buy,” Hossain said. The same condition prevails in Molla Cold Storage, Himadri Ltd, Southpole Cold Storage, Palli Himagar and others, he added.

The farmers said around this time there should be a good demand of potato but it’s different this time and every passing day the prices are going down. In August, Granola was Tk 650 per sack, now being sold at Tk 450-480 a sack.

For Cardinal potatoes prices came down from Tk 700 to Tk 500, for Diamond potatoes it was Tk 460 from Tk 650 and for Guti potato prices came down from Tk 1,100 to Tk950.
After giving Tk 250-300 rent, farmers and traders are incurring Tk 200-300 loss in every sack.

Potato trader Ahmed Ali said, “I stored potato worth of Tk 700,000 in cold storages and now I can’t even sell it even after counting a Tk 300 loss every sack.” Another trader, Abdul Momin, said he bought 260 sacks at Tk 770 and now he is forced to sell the item at Tk 430. “Although the loss is too high we are forced to sell it because there will be further downfall in prices,” Momin said.

Farmers sorting out potato in a cold storage in Joypurhat

Manik Ahmed said he always stores few thousand sacks of potato in cold storages and he couldn’t sell a sack among 5,000 this year, due to low demand. Mosharraf Hossain, a farmer, said, “I stored 500 sacks of potato in local cold storage and incurred a Tk 200 loss every sack. Abdul Barik, another farmer, said he incurred loss of Tk 150 every sack.

The farmers said government has to promote diversified use of potato and ensure exports of potato on urgent basis. Otherwise, farmers will lose interest in farming potato, they said.

“One of the problems is that there is a very little industrial use of potatoes. The use of potato should be diversified beyond only consumption as vegetable,” Hossain said.


One Response

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  1. PR Colds Srores said, on September 30, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    In some parts of the world the cold stores industry need to expand.

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