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Prices of vegetables in Bangladesh hiked up to 88%

Publication Date : 30-06-2014

 

Despite the government's repeated warnings, greengrocers hiked vegetable prices on the eve of Ramadan in the capital's markets to make quick profits.

The average prices of four vegetable items -- aubergine, cucumber, green chilli and onion -- rose between 11 per cent and 88 per cent over the last one month, The Daily Star found while visiting a number of markets.

These vegetables are widely consumed during Ramadan.

Swapna Islam, a housewife, bought a 1kg of aubergine at 80 Bangladesh taka (US$1)  from a roadside vendor at Kathal Bagan yesterday. It sold at 50 Bangladesh taka ($0.64) per kg only two weeks ago.

“High prices discouraged me from buying more,” said Swapna, as she abandoned her plan to buy vegetables for a week.

Cucumber price shot up to 55 Bangladesh taka ($0.71) a kg yesterday from 30 Bangladesh taka ($0.39) only a week back, she said.

“It is illogical to hike prices within such a short time despite adequate supply."


Swapna's reaction reflects a general sense of frustration among shoppers in most parts of the city.

At Karwan Bazar, four pieces of standard-size lemons were selling at 25 to 30 Bangladesh taka ($0.32 to $0.39) yesterday which was 15 Bangladesh taka ($0.19) only a couple of days ago.

Though green chilli would cost between 40 to 60 Bangladesh taka ($0.52 to $0.77) per kg a month ago, it sold for 80 to 90 Bangladesh taka ($1.00 to $1.16) yesterday.

At Hatirpool kitchen market, retailers were selling locally produced onions at 40 Bangladesh taka ($0.52) a kg, up from 34 Bangladesh taka ($0.44) a week ago.

Though the government has imposed a ban on exports of aubergine, garlic, cucumber, green chilli, lemon and coriander leaves until July 31 to ensure adequate supply during Ramadan and control price hike, it certainly has not worked as expected.

“Prices of some vegetables have increased mainly due to supply shortage,” said Mohammad Sayed, president of Shyambazar Krishi Panya Aarot Banik Samity, blaming the supply shortfall on the heavy rain in the last couple of weeks.

The price of garlic rose by 15.38 per cent to 60 to 90 Bangladesh tkaa ($0.77 to $1.16) a kg compared to that of the previous month, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.

“Onion price is increasing mainly due to low production in India,” said Ratan Saha, an onion wholesaler at Shyambazar.

India has recently doubled the minimum export price of onion to $300 a tonne, he said adding that this is likely to fuel onion price hike in Bangladesh markets as traders squeeze supply.

Onion imports went up 76 per cent in the first 10 months of the outgoing fiscal year and onion worth $153 million was imported, according to the statistics of Bangladesh Bank.

Besides, the letters of credit (LC) for importing onion increased by 78 per cent and LCs worth $165 million were opened for importing spices, which are in high demand for preparing iftar (breaking fast) items during Ramadan.

The annual domestic demand for onion is 2.2 million tonnes. The country produced 1.36 million tonnes in the last season and the rest was imported mainly from India.

The government, however, claimed the country has adequate supply of onion.

“There is no reason to hike prices ahead of Ramadan as the country has adequate supply of essential items,” the commerce ministry yesterday said in a statement.

Besides, 14 teams of the ministry have already started monitoring the supply and pricing of basic commodities in the city's kitchen markets, it said.

The ministry also warned traders of punitive actions for any attempt to make too much profit during Ramadan.

The price of bottled cooking oil remained unchanged. A five-litre jar of edible oil was selling 545 to 560 Bangladesh taka ($7.00 to $7.21) yesterday, the same as a month ago. The prices of gram, lentil and date also remained stable till yesterday.

Meanwhile, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said that business leaders have assured him of keeping the prices of essentials at a tolerable level during Ramadan.

Replying to lawmakers' queries in parliament, Tofail said business leaders, retailers and wholesalers gave this assurance in two meetings with the government on June 9 and March 31.

 

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