The prices of daily essential commodities including eggplants, cucumbers, papayas, onions, and tomatoes have gone up Tk10 to Tk50 per kg from last week with the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
Even though Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and the authorities of the city corporations earlier said the prices of essential commodities would not change during Ramadan as supply would be higher than demand, the scenario of the kitchen markets of the city has changed perceptibly within the second day of the holy month.
Visiting the capital’s Karwan Bazar, Hatirpool, Shukrabad and Mohammadpur kitchen markets, this reporter found that the prices of commodities had risen alarmingly.
Businessmen said they were selling various goods at hiked prices compared to previous weeks following increased demands across the country during Ramadan.
Nazmul, a vegetable trader in Shukrabad said: “We are now selling Brinjal at Tk70 to Tk100 per kg, which was Tk50 to Tk60 last week. Similarly, cucumber is going for Tk70 to Tk80 despite being Tk50 to Tk60 prior to Ramadan.”
Md Sobhan, a vegetable businessman in Karwan Bazar of the capital said: “I have been seeing price hikes during Ramadan every year for the past 20 years of my business here. This year is no exception.” “Prices of some vegetables shoot up as their demand increases during Ramadan,” he added.
Sumaiya, a resident of Mohammadpur said: “Eggplants, cucumbers, green chillies, etc. have high demand during Ramadan. These always become more expensive during the holy month.
“The government could not control this price hike before, so why would they be expected to this year? These are essential goods, so we are bound to purchase them no matter the price. Today I bought tomatoes at Tk65 that was Tk50 some time ago, and bitter gourd at Tk80 which was Tk60 last week,” she also said.
Moreover, four pieces of lemon have gone from Tk30 to Tk40, green chilli from Tk60 to Tk85, calabash from Tk60 to Tk90, sugar from Tk60 to Tk65, and puffed rice from Tk80 to Tk100 (Packaged from Tk120 to Tk160) per kilogram at Mohammadpur kitchen market.
SM Nazer Hossain, vice-president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said prices had increased due to a lack of surveillance by the authorities concerned.
“Prices at wholesale markets depend on ringleaders. They store essential goods for many days in advance in order to make huge profits. The government does not take action against the influential traders who are involved in such unscrupulous practices,” he said.
He added that the government should encourage farmers to cultivate more food and vegetables. Right now they are not interested in cultivating these as they incur losses. The government must assist them directly and buy all food crops from them instead of from third parties.
When contacted, Md Shafiqul Islam Laskar, director general of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection under the Ministry of Commerce, said: “We cannot do anything about vegetable traders as the prices depend on the supply of produce.”
“The government can only take action and charge a fine of up to Tk50,000 if traders are found selling essential commodities at prices beyond the Maximum Retail Price (MRP),” he added.