Potato output has already reached 1.04 crore tonnes, national highest ever, but the growers are counting losses due to low price at their end.
The Department of Agricultural Extension said that 96 per cent of the tubers had already been harvested this season.
It said the potato was grown on 5.28 lakh hectares, though the government had set the acreage target at 4.8 lakh hectares.
DAE field service deputy director Mohammad Abduhu expects harvest to exceed 1.10 crore tonnes.
In 2016, the country produced 94.74 lakh tonnes of potato. Total output in 2015 was 92.54 lakh tonnes.
Grower Kobayed Hossain of Taraganj, Rangpur already harvested most of the potato crop he had grown on 30 acres, he told New Age.
He said that he harvested 9,000 kg of potato per acre.
But for the low quality of seeds he bought from BADC, he would get higher per acre yield.
Kobayed said he and other growers in his area sold potato for Tk 9 to Tk 10 per kg, which was equal to production cost.
He said commercial growers were storing their output to get better price.
Kobayed urged the government to facilitate potato exports so that the growers could get better price.
Upazila agricultural officer at Munsiganj sadar Jagadish Chandra Debnath told New Age that potato harvest in his area was ‘good’ this year.
He said that the crop was grown on 10,195 hectares in his upazila and harvest was completed on 7,200 hectares.
He said that 40 kg potato was being sold at Tk 460-Tk 480 in the district town but the growers were getting lower prices at remote areas.
New Age Munshiganj correspondent reported that recent hailstorms coupled with rains caused serious damage to the crop at the harvest stage across the district known as the country’s best potato growing area.
Agriculture economist Dr Jahangir Alam Khan said that despite steady increase in potato output by five per cent per year since 2000, the government took no initiative to export potato or advance the interest of the growers.
He said that the country’s missions abroad particularly their commercial wings failed to make any dent in the global export market of potato.
He also asked the government to increase subsidy to boost potato exports.
Since potato is the principal staple in several countries in continental Europe the government should encourage potato exports to the countries there, said Jahangir, who did his PhD in agricultural economics at Canterbury University.
He did his post-doctoral studies at Lincoln University, New Zealand where potato has diversified use in its menu.
Jahangir Alam, former member director (Economics) at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council said continue low prices could discourage potato cultivation in Bangladesh.
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