- 31,402 tonnes of potatoes were exported through Chittagong seaport in 2019-20
- 32,089 tonnes of potatoes were exported in 2018-19
- 29,359 tonnes in 2017-18
- 95 percent of the potatoes exported through Chittagong seaport
- 5 percent through Banglabandha
- Bangladesh exports four types of potatoes, they are- Ganala, Diamond, Round Manila, and Red
Although the Covid-19 outbreak has had a major impact on the export of garments and other products, the export of potatoes has been normal. Due to the huge demand for Bangladeshi potatoes in the world market, the export flow of this agricultural product has been normal.
Deputy Director Mohammad Asaduzzaman Bulbul of the Chittagong Port Plant Quarantine Centre told The Business Standard that although all other government departments were closed on public holidays due to Covid-19, their office was open to keep the export of agricultural products normal. As a result, potato exports were normal during the pandemic.
According to potato exporters, the demand for Bangladeshi potatoes is increasing day by day in the world. If this demand is exploited and various initiatives are taken, Bangladesh will be able to earn a lot of foreign exchange by exporting this item.
According to the Chittagong Port Plant Quarantine Centre, 31,402 tonnes of potatoes were exported through Chittagong seaport in the just-concluded 2019-20 fiscal year. Besides, 32,089 tonnes of potatoes were exported in 2018-19 and 29,359 tonnes in 2017-18.
Dr Ferdousi Begum, head of Ferdous Biotech Pvt Ltd, a potato exporter, told The Business Standard that 95 percent of the potatoes exported from Bangladesh go through the Chittagong seaport, and the remaining five percent through Banglabandha. The average price of potatoes exported to different countries of the world is about $250 per tonne.
If the government pays special attention to the export of agricultural products, as it does to readymade garments, the volume of exports will increase further, she added.
She said a separate zone needs to be set up at Chittagong port for shipping potatoes. Besides, extortion in road transport, toll waiver, assessment of potato quality in the presence of agricultural officials, government initiatives for new companies to take initiative in potato export will play a huge role in export earnings if government agencies are more sincere in potato export.
Sheikh Abdul Quader, managing director of Agriconcern Ltd, a large potato exporter in Bangladesh, told The Business Standard that Bangladesh has been able to maintain the continuity of potato exports even during the pandemic. He expects the volume of potato exports to increase further in the current financial year, which is undoubtedly positive for the country.
About 80 percent of the potatoes that are exported through Chittagong seaport go to Malaysia. Besides, potatoes are exported to various other countries including Vietnam, Maldives, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Brunei, Oman, Hong Kong, Qatar, etc.
According to the Plant Quarantine Centre, Bangladesh exports four types of potatoes. These include 50-150-gram round potatoes called Ganala, Diamond potatoes are oval-shaped and weigh more than 50 grams, round Manila potatoes weigh 60-120 grams and red potatoes weigh more than 80 grams.
Data from the Department of Agricultural Extension reveals that the country is producing an average of about 8 million tonnes of potatoes against the demand of four million tonnes. Potato farmers do not get a fair price as the production has doubled against the demand. Being unable to store it in cold storage, as an alternative in the hope of a fair price during the production season, potato farmers often sell the item at a low price.
If the government is more proactive in exporting surplus potatoes, the people concerned think that potato export can create a milestone in business.