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Govt plans to ban potato export

'Vested quarters raising price'

| Updated: October 17, 2020 11:01:43

Govt plans to ban potato export

Amid massive uproar over skyrocketing potato price, the government is planning to suspend export of the key vegetable item for the time being to contain its price spiral, officials have said.

"Unless the price goes down to a tolerable level, if necessary, we may suspend  potato export," Commerce Secretary Dr Jafar Uddin told the FE on Thursday.

He said the potato stock in the country is sufficient, but vested quarters are raising its price to make windfall profit.

"Our monitoring teams are there, and will not allow anyone to sell potato at higher than fixed price," the secretary added.

Presently, the government provides 20 per cent cash incentives to encourage the traders to earn foreign currency by exporting potato. The cash support resulted in its significant export boost in the recent years.

In fiscal year 2019-20, some 45,000 tonnes of potato were exported, up by 29 per cent year-on-year.

Data available with the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) shows that through exporting the kitchen staple, the traders earned some US$23.30 million in last fiscal year.

Last year, the average export price of the key vegetable item was $250 per tonne, data shows.

Bangladesh exports potato to Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Maldives, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Brunei, Oman, Hong Kong, Qatar, the European Union, and Nepal.

According to the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM), the country's potato production was 10.9 million tonnes this year, against an annual demand of 7.7 million tonnes.

Bangladesh Cold Storage Association (BCSA) president M Mosharraf Hossain earlier told the FE that many traders are not withdrawing their stored potato from the cold storages to make higher profit through creating supply shortage.

On Thursday, potato was selling between Tk 50 and Tk 55 per kg. The price is almost cent per cent higher than that of a year ago, according to the DAM.


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