State-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) will sell potatoes at Tk25 per kg in a bid to cap rising prices of the starchy tuber.
Commerce Minister, Tipu Munshi, announced the open-market sale after a meeting with the Cold Storage Association, potato wholesalers, Department of Agricultural Marketing, and Department of Agricultural Extension officials at his office Sunday.
Tipu Munshi said potatoes will be sold at TCB's truck sales points, enabling consumers to buy them at an affordable rate.
However, the Minister did not specify when the TCB truck sale will begin.
The Minister denied that there was a potato crisis as the country had produced enough potatoes this year, and the stocks were also enough to meet the local demand.
Tipu Munshi said the demand for the tuber has risen as other vegetables have been damaged by flooding and rain. Even with the rise in demand, there is no reason for potato prices to cross the fixed rates set by the government.
He said that the traders have been instructed to sell potatoes at the government-fixed retail price of Tk30 per kg.
The Department of Agricultural Marketing recently fixed the maximum retail price of potato at Tk30 per kg. Wholesale and cold storage prices were fixed at Tk25 and at Tk23 per kg respectively.
But potatoes are still being sold at Tk50 per kilogram in the market.
The Commerce Minister said that government agencies, including the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP), have started market monitoring and traders will not be allowed to overcharge the customers in any way.
The Agriculture Ministry says that the country has produced 1.09 crore tonnes of potatoes this year.
Bangladesh consumes 75 lakh tonnes of the tuber per year. At present, the country has a stock of 10 lakh tonnes of potatoes for consumption, while another 15 lakh tonnes are stored for seeds. New potatoes will start arriving in the market in end-November.
In the wake of the spiralling prices, potato traders claimed that export of the tuber has increased, while local consumption of the vegetable has also risen owing to the recent hikes in prices.
The rise in demand has pushed potato prices to record-high levels. Later, news also broke that the government was mulling a ban on potato exports to calm down the domestic market.