The potato market has been a topic of concern in recent years due to skyrocketing prices in Bogura. In an effort to stabilize the situation, the government implemented a fixed price of Tk 27 per kilogram for potatoes. However, wholesale traders are struggling to procure potatoes at this rate, resulting in a shortage of the popular large white "stick" potatoes in Bogura markets. On the other hand, cold storage operators hold a different perspective. They claim that potatoes are consistently supplied, and it's retail traders who are manipulating potato sales.
To address these issues, the district administration collaborated with stakeholders to introduce a system where potatoes are sold at Tk 36 per kilogram in the wholesale market. However, traders are finding it challenging to meet demand through this system.
According to the Bogura District Agriculture Extension Directorate, this year's potato production reached 10 lakh 24 thousand 120 metric tons on 53 thousand 215 hectares of land.
Farmers mainly cultivated native Pakdi and Hagrai potatoes on 14,000 hectares, while foreign and indigenous varieties like Cardinal, Granola, and Diamond were grown on the rest.
Faridur Rahman, Deputy Assistant Agriculture Officer, reported that at the start of the season, approximately three and a half lakh metric tons of potatoes were stored in 42 cold storages in Bogura. Currently, about 1 lakh 42 thousand metric tons remain in these facilities.
A visit to Bogura's wholesale markets, including Rajabazar, Fateh Ali, and Colony Bazar, reveals that most traders have limited quantities of stick potatoes available. Indigenous Pakri varieties and small round potatoes are in abundance, but their demand is primarily within the district. Consequently, consumers are paying higher prices for stick potatoes, ranging from 40 to 45 Tk per kilogram, and Pakdi potatoes are priced at 52-60 Tk per kilogram at the retail level.
Shafiqul Islam, a consumer from the Namazgarh area of the city, confirmed that retail prices for potatoes were as high as 40 Tk per kilogram, prompting him to purchase from the wholesale market at the government-set price of 36 Tk per kilogram.
Cold storage officials denied allegations of potato supply problems, suggesting that retailers were spreading misinformation to justify higher prices. Saiful Islam, Manager of Krishi Call Cold Storage, emphasized that there is no actual shortage of potato supply and that retailers are creating an artificial crisis. Moreover, the storage period for potatoes in the cold stores will expire soon, which could pose risks to traders if potatoes are withheld.
Parimal Prasad Raj, General Secretary of the Rajabazar Artdar and Business Owners Association, acknowledged the market's complexity. He admitted that there might be some price irregularities in cold storage, with certain individuals selling potatoes above the government-set price. However, he affirmed that potato supply has not been disrupted, and, as in any market, there are dishonest traders.