Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) contract potato growers have demanded higher prices for their potato seeds, and protection of the country's seed sector from conspirators.
Farmers of the Bangladesh BADC-Contract Potato Seeds Farmers Central Forum, made the demand with a press conference at the National Press Club on Monday.
BADC has set the sell price for potato seeds at below production cost, frustrating seed farmers. It decided to buy A-grade potato seeds from growers at Tk22 per kilogram and Tk20 for the B-grade, they say.
30% of potato seedlings have died across the country in the current financial year due to poor quality seeds supplied by BADC, they also claimed.
"Our demand is to set the price of potato seeds at Tk37.50 this year," said Anisur Rahman Liton, general secretary of the newly-formed platform.
Milon Hossain, president of the platform, said that due to poor quality seeds supplied by BADC, the potato crops of contracted farmers have been much less than estimated this year.
In previous years, BADC paid potato growers 25% more than the cost of production. This year, it cost Tk30 to produce a kg of potato seeds, thanks to higher labor costs and use of pesticides. As such, this year the BADC should be purchasing potatoes for Tk37.50 per kg, he added.
Anisur Rahman Liton said "We think some BADC officials are conspiring with the private sector by providing poor quality seeds so as to destroy this sector."
He demanded investigation and exemplary punishment of officers involved in supplying supposedly poor quality potato seeds.
"If the price of potato seeds is not increased, it could have a negative impact on potato production. Farmers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic will become more helpless, and facing huge losses, abandon potato production. And yield will also be badly affected in the future due to the use of substandard seeds, he added.
About 100 farmer representatives from across the country attended the event.