Potatoes cannot be exported due to germs despite huge potential

11 September 2022

Staff Reporter :
Bangladesh has a huge potential to exports its potatoes, but the presence of a bacterial germ, though not harmful for human health after boiling, is found in the potatoes.
Due to the bacteria, the importing countries are not interested to buy these potatoes despite government's various negotiations with them.
Scientists said that the bacteria has entered the potato due to the contamination of soil for a long time.
They, however, said that there is nothing to be worried about the bacteria because it dies after boiling.
The issue of exporting potatoes again comes to the limelight in a press conference organized by Capital Market Journalist Forum (CMJF) in the city on Saturday.
Bangladesh Safe Food Authority (BFSA) and US Department of Agriculture supported Bangladesh Trade Facilitation Project jointly organized the press conference on the occasion of Food and Chemical Lab Expo-2022.
Earlier, in the financial year 2020-21, Bangladesh earned $51 million by exporting only 55,000 tonnes of potatoes but was expected to have fared much better by exporting an estimated 80,000 to 90,000 tonnes.
Bangladesh grows nearly 11 million tonnes of the tuber crop against a yearly domestic requirement of seven million tonnes. And, the remaining four million potatoes is wasted for the shortage of storage system and absence of small and medium scale industries to produce different types of food items. "There is a bacteria in our country's potatoes. We have re-examined our potatoes and it contains a type of bacteria. So, some countries do not accept these potatoes. The department concerned is trying to produce potatoes maintain quality by bringing seeds from abroad. It would be possible to produce germ free potatoes and potatoes can be exported from our country to the developed nations," Abdul Qayum, Chairman of BFSA told journalists.
He said that potatoes examined in the lab and there are actually germs in it.
"We may not see much in our lab test, but the developed countries take food products after checking everything. Even, we had many problems initially while exporting shrimps. As the problems have been gradually resolved on the advice of the European Commission, there is no problem at all in the export of shrimps," the BFSA Chairman said.
When asked how to eliminate the problem of germs in potatoes, Member of BFSA Rezaul Karim replied, "there are some problems on the soil of our country. It is not possible to eliminate it overnight. Because of this, despite the possibility, we cannot export potatoes to the Russian market. Now efforts are being taken to produce improved varieties of potatoes, so that the bacteria cannot enter the potatoes."
When asked whether eating such potatoes harmful to health, he said that each area has different characters. "Food that is not healthy in our country but the same food is healthy in other countries. So we are not harmed by eating these potatoes," he added.
BFSA Chairman Abdul Qayum said that people do not consume raw potatoes and germs do not remain after a certain degree of boiling.
"Boiled potatoes do not contain germs, so it is safe for us to consume," he added.
Food and Chemical Lab Expo 2022 is going to start for the first time on Sunday in the city's Bangabandhu International Convention Center with the aim of increasing people's confidence and ensuring safe food for everyone.
Russia has a demand of 26 million tons of potatoes annually with a shortage of five million tonnes.
Bangladesh ships potatoes mainly to Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Nepal also imported 15,000 tons of potatoes from Bangladesh this year.

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