The state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) started the open market sale (OMS) of potato at subsidised rate of Tk 25 a kilogramme in the city on Wednesday.
TCB spokesperson Humayun Kabir said the corporation is selling potato at 80 points in Dhaka from trucks.
“Every truck is selling 300 kgs of potato apart from onion, pulses, edible oil and sugar. Every person is allowed to buy two kgs of potato from a TCB truck,” he added.
However, a huge crowd was seen at the OMS points on the day as commoners thronged to buy potato, onion, and other essentials at subsidised rate.
The stock of potato ended long before Wednesday at 12.30 pm amid higher demand, claimed consumers.
The government fixed prices of potato in three stages on October 14 then revised it again on Tuesday amid a supply crunch of the item in the city as traders were reluctant to sell potato at the then rate.
However, prices of potato remained still much higher on Wednesday in the city markets than that of the government fixed rate.
The government revised the maximum retail prices of potato at Tk 35 a kg on Tuesday.
But stored potatoes like the diamond and cardinal varieties were sold at Tk 43-50 a kg while 'carriage' variety at Tk 50-55 a kg on the day in the city retail markets.
The Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) after meeting with cold-storage owners, wholesalers, and concerned government agencies refixed maximum cold- storage level, wholesale and retail prices as Tk 27, Tk 30, and Tk 35 a kg again on Wednesday.
The DAM took the decision as prices of potato shot up by 25 per cent suddenly to Tk 50-55 a kg.
The current price is 90-100 per cent higher than that of a year ago, according to DAM.
Cold storage level rate was raised by Tk 4.0 and retail, wholesale level by Tk 5.0 a kg by the government.
Secretary of the city’s Shyambazar Potato Wholesalers Association Md Jahangir Alam said many wholesalers started selling potatoes in the city from Wednesday morning after getting assurance from the government for relaxation of monitoring for the next one or two days.
He said they stopped selling for one and a half-day to avoid legal hassle as it was not possible for them to sell those at the government-fixed rate.
He said prices of potato will decline if the cold storage owners follow it.
“If cold storage rate of maximum Tk 27 a kg could be implemented, we could supply potato at Tk 35 a kg immediately,” said Mr. Alam
“However, the wholesale price of potato was Tk 36-42 a kg in the city on the day,” he added.
DAM said the country's potato production was 10.9 million tonnes against the demand of 7.7 million tonnes this year.
According to the Bangladesh Cold Storage Association (BCSA), more than 369 cold storages have stored 4.0 million tonnes of potato this year of which 1.5 million tonnes is seed potato.