Potato exports jump

Potato export has witnessed a sharp rise by 56% to US$19.38m in the first 8 months of the current fiscal year, thanks to the government’s initiative to promote the export of the food item and also to save the farmers by ensuring fair prices to their product.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau data, Bangladesh exported potato worth $19.38mn in between July and February of the current fiscal while it was only US$11m in the same period of the previous fiscal year 2013-14.

During the last fiscal, Bangladesh exported potato worth $34m to different countries. Out of which, only Russia alone imported potato of $9m. However, Malaysia has become the largest importer of potato from Bangladesh, buying potato worth $13m during the last fiscal.

Farm workers carry potatoes from the field after harvest in Munshiganj this season

Surplus production during the last two seasons meant that Bangladesh exported the highest volume of potato in the last fiscal while potato worth only $9m was exported in the 2012-13 fiscal.

The export scenario of the particular food product has sharply increased since last year due to the government’s massive initiatives for boosting potato export as the country experienced serious agitation by potato farmers for not getting fair prices in the last two years.

“The government’s measure to increase the export volume of potato is obviously praiseworthy as it has ultimately save the farmers, said Dr Asaduzzaman, an ago-economist, who works as professional fellow at Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).

Russia, the second largest potato importer from Bangladesh, explored the country’s market during the last fiscal for the first time.

The country, however, expressed its concern about the quality of Bangladeshi potato as it found the presence of a bacterial infection called ‘Brown Rot’ in one of the shipments.

Soon after receiving the objection, the government undertook an intensive plan to combat such kind of infection in potato to avoid any probable ban on potato export to Russia.

The ministry of agriculture suggested the potato growers to use selective lands cautiously to produce infection-free potato for safer export, which is being implemented form the current season.

“The government has planned to bring the potato exporters under a common rule, which will direct them to have their own contract with the growers for growing potato maintaining the product quality, for ensuring uninterrupted export,” said Anwar Faruqe, an additional secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. The government has decided to stop the common practice of procuring the export-bound potato from the local farmers, as the crop produced without surveillance might be infected, he said.

“The ministry wants to create a professionalism on the exporting process of potato and other vegetable items.”

The government also suggested that farmers to cultivate potato only on those land, which is naturally washed by rainwater during monsoon.

During current year, the farmers of some areas in the country have started cultivation of the seasonal crop and getting comparatively better prices than the previous two years due to the better prospect of potato export to different destinations across the world.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has directly been engaged to monitor the whole process of potato export, starting from land selection to the final stage of export.

According to the DAE, an average annual production of potato in the country is around 80 lakh tonnes against the local demands of around 50 lakh tonnes.


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