Potato prices re-fixed at Tk35 per kilo for retail, Tk30 in wholesale
Retail traders expressed their outrage over the stoppage of potato sales at Karwan Bazar wholesale kitchen market in the capital since Monday.
However, wholesalers blamed this on cold storage owners, who refused to sell potatoes to the former at the government-set price of Tk23 per kilogram.
Wholesalers claimed to incur huge losses due to fluctuating prices offered by the cold storage owners, as a result forcing them to sell potatoes to retailers for more than Tk25 per kg, the price fixed by the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM).
Selling to retailers at high prices drew the attention of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP), which fined some of the wholesalers for selling more than the wholesale price fixed by DAM.
As a result, the wholesalers decided to stop selling potatoes on Monday.
They claimed that cold storage owners were selling potatoes to them at Tk36-38 per kg.
Hridoy Ahmed, a wholesaler, said most wholesalers decided not to sell potatoes as, according to them, it was not worth it.
A few wholesalers were selling directly from trucks. If the arrival of a mobile court was sensed nearby, they would move out from the market, he added.
Abu Hossain Rony, another potato wholesaler at Karwan Bazar, said: "I purchase potatoes from Shyambazar. Despite the government's instruction to cold storage owners to sell us potatoes at Tk23 per kg, they do not give them to us for less than Tk30 a kilo. Then our purchasing cost and selling price also go up. The magistrate does not want to listen to this."
He blamed the cold storage owners for this price manipulation, as they did not make sufficient profit in the last few years.
“Currently I have 75,000tons of potatoes. This time a lot of potatoes rotted because of excessive rainfall. But that does not mean that its prices should increase. No wholesale customers came to us in the last few days, despite selling it for Tk25 per kg,” said a cold storage owner, seeking anonymity.
Potato prices re-fixed
The Department of Agriculture Marketing (DAM) on Tuesday re-fixed the retail price of potatoes at Tk35 per kilogram, after a meeting with businessmen and officials of Bangladesh Cold Storage Association (BCSA).
The price was fixed at Tk30 on October 7.
Besides, the wholesale prices were also re-fixed at Tk30 per kg and at cold storage gates at Tk27 per kg.
DAM Director General Mohammad Yusuf presided over the meeting.
Khaja Ahmed, president of Rangpur Potato Farmers Samity, said that the Bangladesh Cold Storage Association (BCSA) wanted to make a quick buck by putting pressure on the government.
“Tk 23-25 per kg is enough for them (cold storage owners.) Now fixing Tk 27 per kg for us is really a lot. This is the first time ever I have seen in the last 30 years in business that potato prices have reached Tk50 per kg. It is really not fair and rational to sell potatoes at such a price in retail markets,” Khaja observed.