How do Agrico seed potatoes find their way to Bangladesh? The journey starts with the sale of the seed potatoes. Agrico’s internal sales team and the growers’ logistics department then immediately set to work to make sure that everything is ready on time for exportation. The correct documents are also arranged.
After booking the containers, the potatoes start their journey from Rotterdam. At the time of their departure, the area in which they will be grown is still 2 metres underwater, because Bangladesh lies in a delta. The departure of the potatoes marks the end of the monsoon season in Bangladesh.
The containers with potatoes are transported to the Port of Chittagong in Bangladesh. As no ships sail directly to Bangladesh, the journey is often via Singapore or Colombo. The containers then continue their journey on a ‘feeder’, a smaller container ship, which takes the containers to their final destination. By now, the potatoes will have been underway for 6 to 7 weeks.
To guarantee the quality, refrigerated containers, also known as reefers, are used. It is important that, on arrival, the containers are immediately connected to a power supply. This will ensure that the seed potatoes in the container are at the same values (temperature, air circulation and RH) that were set when the container left Rotterdam. Samples are also taken by the local phytosanitary service, to check whether the seed potatoes meet the country’s requirements. Two to three days later, the containers are released for further transport.
The containers remain at the port, and the crates are removed from the container, one by one, by our local agent and loaded onto a truck for domestic transport. Following a journey lasting several days, the seed potatoes arrive at the dealers, who have been appointed by our agent. These are then stored temporarily before being sold to local growers.
In addition to seed potatoes, these exclusive dealers often also sell vegetable seeds, chemical fertilizer and crop protection products, so that customers have a ‘one-stop-shop’, where they can acquire a wide range of products and knowledge. The growers plant the potatoes that they buy in the fields and this completes the circle.
Agrico has been working with agent Malik Seeds for more than 45 years. Diamant is currently the largest export variety to Bangladesh (90%), but we are also introducing our Next Generation-varieties and initial reports appear to be very positive. Varieties Carolus, Twinner and Alouette are all doing very well. Important characteristics for a suitable variety in Bangladesh are the flavour, shelf life, yield, skin and the long oval tuber and resistance to Phytophthora. The aforementioned varieties achieve very good scores in all of these characteristics. The yields of these three varieties are significantly higher than people are accustomed to with other varieties.
The growers often already harvest after 80 to 90 days. After March the temperatures are so high that a potato crop is unable to withstand these. After the potato harvest, two more rice crops are grown, and then the monsoon season starts again.
Along with our agent and our superb varieties, we are very confident about the future in Bangladesh.