October 9, 2023
DHAKA – Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque today admitted that the government has failed to control the prices of onions and potatoes despite taking measures.
The minister, also a presidium member of the Awami League, made the remark to reporters after a Food Planning and Monitoring Committee meeting at the Secretariat today.
“We could not control the price of onions and potatoes. We will accept the criticism, this is our weak point. But please also highlight our strong points in the media,” the minister said.
When asked if the government has given up on controlling the price of potato and onion, Razzaque said, “We have not given up at all. We are working on it. The production part falls to our agricultural ministry, but the commerce ministry is responsible for monitoring the market. Even then, we cannot escape responsibility. In the cabinet system, all ministers share responsibilities for this.”
Explaining the challenges related to controlling onion prices, Razzaque said that although onion production in the country is sufficient, due to its perishable nature it does not last more than two months.
He further said that in the previous year, there was a surplus of onions and potatoes, but farmers struggled to sell their produce. However, the situation has reversed this year, with cold storage owners and wholesalers capitalising on the low production to reap significant profits.
Razzaque placed the blame on cold storage owners and wholesalers saying that they are not fulfilling their supply obligations, which is a major impediment to price stability.
“When our officials apply pressure on them at the field level, some of these suppliers even cease their deliveries. However, we are trying to address this situation,” he added.
About rice production, he said, “We didn’t have to import rice since July, which is a good sign. Considering all factors, we are in a good position this year in terms of rice production, distribution, and food security for the people.”