Bangladesh: Potatoes set to get costlier as production costs double
The production cost of potatoes nearly doubled this year in comparison to last year due to an increase in prices of potato seeds, fertiliser and irrigation, raising concerns about a further increase in retail prices of the tuber.
armer said the price of seed potatoes had also doubled compared to last year while even the price of government seeds increased by more than Tk 10.
Moreover, the price of fertiliser increased by about Tk 300-400 per sack compared to last year while the cost of cultivation and irrigation also rose due to several hikes in fuel prices.
Saiful Islam, a farmer in the Rangamati village under Bogura’s Shibganj upazila, cultivated potatoes on two bighas (66 decimals) of land this year at a cost of around Tk 55,000.
Lamenting the fact, Saiful said that the cost of cultivation on the same amount of land last year would have cost no more than Tk 30,000.
He said that the price of one sack (60 kg) of Asterix potato seed was Tk 1,000 last year but had now increased to between Tk 2,400-2,500.
"Last year, the price of one sack of Pakri potato seeds was Tk 2,000. This time it has increased to Tk 3,500-4,000. Besides, the price of fertiliser increased from Tk 300 per sack to Tk 400," Saiful added.
As of November 5, farmers have planted potatoes in 1,400 hectares of land in Bogura, while the acreage target is 55,000 hectares this year in the district.
Sohrab Hossain, a farmer in Arjunpur village of Shibganj upazila, cultivated Asterix potatoes on one bigha of land.
He said that last year his costs amounted to around Tk 13,000-15,000 but this time had exceeded Tk 25,000.
"Last year, it cost Tk 200 to till one bigha of land but this time it cost Tk 400. It took Tk 200 last year to irrigate one bigha of land once but that increased to Tk 300 this year," Sohrab bemoaned.
Saidul Islam, a potato farmer in the Manday village under Joypurhat’s Kalai upazila, is cultivating potatoes on 10 bighas of land this year.
He told The Daily Star: "This time the price of the potato at the retail level is high. Therefore, the price of seed potatoes of different companies is also high. One kilogramme (kg) of Asterix seed potato from Brac costs Tk 68 while prices of other potato seeds also increased. As production costs have increased, the price of new potatoes will be higher. It will be double compared to last year," he said.
Abbas Uddin, a seed and fertiliser dealer of Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), told The Daily Star: "The government has fixed the price of different companies’ potato seeds at different grades. In that case, the price of potato seeds has increased from Tk 250 to Tk 400 per sack (40 kg). The price of fertiliser has increased proportionately," said Abbas.
Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), Bogura Deputy Director (Seed Production) Zakir Hossain told The Daily Star that the price of government seeds had also increased slightly due to increases in production cost.
But he stressed that there was no shortage of seeds.
"Last year the price of one kg of Asterix seed potato from BADC cost Tk 29 per kg, but this time it is being sold at Tk 40 per kg."
However, for the first time this year, BADC is selling Rumana and Pahari Pakri potato seeds, with the latter being sold at Tk 52 per kg, Hossain added.
At the beginning of November, Bangladesh, which usually exports potatoes, decided to import the tuber for domestic consumption for the first time in a frantic effort to curb spiralling prices of the popular vegetable.