Many Bangladesh traders indiscriminately stockpiled rice, potatoes, and onions to drive up prices even when there was a supply surplus. Sources say that government interventions wholly failed to manage the crisis. These findings of three study teams from Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council were revealed yesterday at a press conference in the capital.
The Agriculture Ministry initiated the market research on October 20 last year following public outcry over the prices. The Ministry formed the three teams to investigate why prices of the three essential food items soared in the market.
The study teams found that 52 percent of farmers sold their Boro paddy within a month of harvesting, and only an insignificant minority (5 percent) sold it more than four months after the harvest.
"It means, when the price of rice increased, the staple was not with the farmers," Prof Jahangir Alam, a former director-general of Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute and the coordinator of the study teams, told the press conference yesterday.
The price of potatoes peaked after September and October, while data shows that between July and November, the cold-storage facilities released on average 16.3 percent of their stored potatoes, while the selling price of potatoes almost quadrupled as compared to March.
"The main cause of this price hike was the artificial crisis created by profit-seeking traders, rather than low production and high consumption of potatoes," concluded the team.
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