Zarif Mahmud: Gaibandha farmers are in dire straits as they are not getting fair price by cultivating potatoes. Far from raising the cost of production, the farmers have to count the loss of Tk 8,000 to Tk 10,000 per bigha. One liter of soybean oil has to be bought by selling Adhaman (20 kg) potatoes. And even after selling 15 kg of potatoes, 200 grams of coconut oil can’t be bought.
According to the district agriculture department, the price of potato has come down due to increase in potato yield and cultivation. They are hoping that the farmers will get a fair price if they can save and market the potatoes.
Omar Ali, a farmer from Gachabari village in Gaibandha’s Saghata upazila said, this time he has cultivated native varieties of potatoes in two bighas of land. Cultivation has cost about Tk 15 thousand per bigha. The dream was to sell potatoes and plant boro paddy in the land. That dream is washed away in the rain. At the beginning of this month, due to sudden rains, water accumulated in Alukhet. After that the potatoes start to rot. Potato prices have also come down in the market.
Potato grower Omar Ali told: Because now it goes without saying that there is no price for potatoes. Potatoes are sold at a wholesale price of Tk 350 per ounce. Excluding transportation cost and warehouse fee is Tk 300. Even after selling 20 kg of potatoes (Tk 150), one liter of soybean oil is not going to be bought for Tk 160.
Jewel Mia, a young potato farmer from Manikganj village in Kachua union of Saghata said almost the same thing. He told: In the sudden rains of this month, water accumulates in the soil and the potatoes rot. Later water is drained out. Now I have to sell potatoes for Tk 300. Even then there is no buyer.
Expressing anger, he said, “It is not possible to buy 200 grams of coconut oil (Tk 135) for a wife by selling 15 kg of potatoes (Tk 112).” So, I decided that what I really needed to do was learn how to do it right.
Moin Uddin of Harirampur union of Gobindaganj upazila said that he is in danger of cultivating potatoes. He told, “There is no price for potatoes in the market now. Due to rains, it was not possible to keep potatoes in the field for long. So, the cost of production by selling unripe potatoes is far away, on the contrary, the loss is five to seven thousand rupees per bigha.
Farmer Shafiqul Islam drew the attention of the government so that the farmers get a fair price for potatoes. He said the price of potato is still high in Dhaka city. If potatoes are marketed officially, farmers will get a fair price.
Gaibandha District Agriculture Extension Deputy Director Belal Hossain told that 9,250 hectares of land in Gaibandha district has been planted with potatoes this year. Potato yield has been quite good due to favorable weather. However, farmers are frustrated with the price of potatoes. Farmers will get a fair price if they can market the potatoes by storing them.
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