The price of potato remained Tk 50-55 a kilogram on Wednesday at the country’s kitchen markets seven days after the government set the maximum retail price of the essential vegetable at Tk 30 a kg.

The Department of Agricultural Marketing under the agriculture ministry on October 7 fixed the maximum retail price to check the soaring price of the essential commodity when the price reached Tk 38-Tk 42 a kg.

The DAM also fixed the wholesale price of potato at Tk 25 a kg and the cold-storage-gate price at Tk 23 a kg.

Potato was selling between Tk 50 and Tk 55 a kg on Wednesday based on the quality at kitchen markets in the capital, a number of traders and consumers from the Motijheel, Moghbazar and Karwan bazaar areas of the capital said.

There was no impact of the government decision on the price, they said.

The price of the item surged by 111 per cent in October 14 compared to the same period of last year when it sold at Tk 20-Tk25 a kg, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.

The price jumped by 28 per cent compared to two weeks back as the item sold at Tk 34-Tk 40 a kg on October 1, TCB data showed.

The DAM in a letter issued on October 7 asked the deputy commissioners of all the 64 districts to enforce the price and ensure strong monitoring so that the price directive was followed through.

DAM director general Mohammad Yousuf, however, told New Age that the wholesale price started to come down from Wednesday evening.

‘I talked to a number of traders in Mirpur and Mohammadpur areas of the capital and learnt that the wholesale price was Tk 37-Tk 38 a kg and the price will further go down,’ he said.

The district administrations have also strengthened their monitoring activities and are conducting mobile courts to check the irrational price hike, he said.

There are no reasons for such exorbitant increase in the price of the item, he added.

According to the DAM, there is also no deficit of the item in the country. Rather, there remains a surplus of 31.91 lakh tonnes considering the annual demand for 77.09 lakh tonnes against the total production of 1.09 crore tonnes in the last harvesting season (February-March).

The cost of potato should be within Tk 21 a kg, including the costs of production and preservation, at the cold storage gate, according to the DAM.

The maximum cold-storage-gate price of potato should thus be Tk 23 a kg, wholesale price Tk 25 a kg and retail price Tk 30, including the profit, it said.

The department said that the cost of potato production per kg was Tk 8.32 for a farmer.

Bangladesh Cold Storage Association president Mosharraf Hossain, however, said that there was a production shortage of at least 20 lakh tonnes this year as the yield was around 85 lakh tonnes in the last harvesting season against the previous season’s 1.05 lakh tonnes.

Many farmers refrained from potato cultivation due to huge losses in the previous two years, he said.

The average monthly demand for the item in the country was between 7 and 8 lakh tonnes but the demand has gone up due to higher consumption amid COVID-19 and the price hike of other vegetables in last few months, he said, adding that export of potato was also increasing.

Some 400 cold storages across the country have preserved around 45 lakh tonnes of potato this year against last year’s 55 lakh tonnes, he added.

He, however, said that potato price at the cold storage gate declined to Tk 36 a kg on Wednesday from Tk 40 a kg in two days ago.

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