A newly-developed storage system, billed as "Goriber Himagar" (cold storage of the poor), is bringing smiles on the faces of farmers of Khetlal upazila in Joypurhat, who would have otherwise suffered massive losses due to scarcity of storage facilities.
Poor farmers in the district have always had trouble getting fair prices of potato as shortage of storage facilities forced them to sell their product at the beginning of the season when the price is lower.
But now, they can preserve their harvest for three to four months at a low cost thanks to the new storing method.
Construction of the such a storage facility on a decimal of land, using bamboo and thatch, costs Tk25,000 to Tk30,000. Each of these 12-foot-high house can store 120 to 130 maund of potato (1 mound = 37.3kg).
Local NGO Ahead Social Organisation (ASO) has developed the storage system keeping in mind the problems the poor farmers encounter.
This season, Joypurhat's farmers, who are too poor to afford storing their potato in cold storage, incurred Tk5,000-7,000 loss for produce of each bigha.
Farmers Motiur Rahman, Abdul Momin and Khalilur Rahman from three villages of Khetlal Upazila approached the NGO and installed the cheap but effective storage facility with the NGO's financial support.
The new storage facility is helping the farmers get higher prices. They now sell each maund of potato for Tk550 whereas at the beginning of this season each maund would have fetched Tk220.
Farmer Motiur Rahman of Tarakul village said buoyant potato production would push down the price at the beginning of the season and the lack of storage facilities meant they had to sell their product at the low price.
Abdul Momin from Nischinta village pointed out that it was not possible to preserve potatoes for a long time at home.
With new system, farmers can store potato and sell it later at higher prices.
ASO Project Coordinator Mozaffar Rahman said poor farmers had to count loss as they could not afford to store their crops and sell them after two months when the price goes up.
He said they had developed the storage system considering the farmers' problems.
Potato was cultivated on 42,530 hectors of land in Joypurhat this season, according to district's Department of Agriculture Extension.
This season, the farmers produced 9,69,488 tonnes of potato.