Potato glut, fall in rice production in Bangladesh (Lead)

June 1st, 2008 - 4:01 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, June 1 (IANS) Bangladeshi farmers produced a record eight million tonnes of potato in a year that has witnessed a steep fall in rice production caused by floods and a cyclone that hit last November. Facing a dual challenge of importing rice and saving the potato’s distress sale by farmers, the government has launched a drive asking people to use more potato and less of rice, the latter being their staple diet.

India is in the process of sending 500,000 tonnes of rice, while Dhaka looked for more till its fresh crop arrived.

Bangladesh Army Chief Gen. Moin U. Ahmed took the lead in promoting potato and hotel chains chipped in with organising potato-based food festivals.

A Bangladeshi French fries maker is readying to multiply his production ten-folds while heeding the government’s call to utilise more potato in view of the glut in its production.

“We will invest Tk 80 million ($1.2 million) more to produce 80-90 tonnes of French fries a month by 2010,” said Eshtiaque Ahmed, managing director of Ejab Group, the owning company of Quality French Fried Potato.

Ahmed is enthused by the fact that “one super market chain in United Arab Emirates alone sells French fries worth US$ 6.6 million per month”, the Daily Star reported Sunday.

He wants to tap the markets in the Gulf, Europe and America.

As it requires 2.5 tonnes of potato to produce one tonne of French fries, the Quality French Fried Potato will consume only 2,500-2,600 tonnes of potato every year.

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