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Dhaka Tribune

Price of watermelon surges again amid heatwave

  • Watermelon boycotted for high price
  • Bafa earlier sold watermelon at fairer price
Update : 24 Apr 2024, 08:00 PM

The watermelon season began prior to Ramadan with notably high prices, a trend that persisted as demand surged during the month of fasting. General people were forced to call for a boycott as a protest against the high prices.

However, with the onset of rain and subsequent drop in temperatures, its demand reduced, leading to a decrease in prices.

Responding to consumer concerns, the Bangladesh Agri Farmers Association (Bafa) took action, offering watermelons at fair prices in five locations across the capital.

However, just a month after the boycott of watermelon, severe heatwaves have swept across the country. Exploiting the situation, traders have once again hiked watermelon prices.

Watermelons are currently being sold at prices ranging from Tk60 to Tk120 per kg in various areas of the capital, returning to pre-Ramadan levels.

For instance, at Azad Products Lane, located near Purana Paltan intersection, numerous fruit shops can be found. Vendors are selling watermelons by the piece.

When asked about the price of a medium-sized watermelon, they quoted Tk400. Upon inspection, it was found that the weight of the watermelon was slightly over 5kg. Based on this weight, the price per kilogram comes out to Tk80. However, the sellers insist on selling them as single units rather than by weight.

A similar picture is seen in other fruit shops as well. They are also selling watermelons of almost the same size for Tk400 to Tk450. When asked about the sudden surge in price, one vendor attributed it to the fact that the watermelon season is drawing to a close, leading to higher prices.

While the seller attempted to entice buyers by emphasizing the sweetness of the fruits, another vendor claimed that their watermelons were sourced from Khulna, indicating that it justified the higher price tag.

In most of the shops in this vicinity, watermelons are sold by pieces rather than by weight. However, in one particular shop, they were selling them by the weight. When asked about the price, they quoted Tk120 per kg. Given that the watermelons in their shop weighed over 5kg, the price for a 5kg watermelon would be Tk600.

In nearby shops, watermelons of the same weight are being sold for Tk400 to Tk450. When questioned about the price disparity, the seller justified it by asserting the superior quality of their fruits: "All our fruits are fresh here. We do not stock any subpar items. If you desire premium quality, you must be willing to pay a premium price."

Meanwhile, at a fruit shop located opposite Tejgaon College in the Farmgate area, watermelons are being sold by weight. The traders there are charging Tk60 per kilogram.

Can the price always remain low?

In a span of less than a month, the price of watermelons has surged from Tk30 to Tk60-Tk70 per kilogram. When questioned about the sudden doubling in price, Matin, a watermelon vendor, attributed it to the high demand at the end of the season. He posed a rhetorical question: "Can the price always remain low?"

Another seller named Siddique said: "I have no explanation for the price hike. It's simply what I'm selling them for now."

When approached for insight into the watermelon season, a vendor named Abul Kalam explained that traditionally, watermelons are available from the end of March through May, constituting the peak season.

However, nowadays, watermelons are available year-round.

When asked about the higher prices at the end of the season, he mentioned that these are typically larger watermelons compared to the smaller ones available during other times of the year.

At the fruit shop in Mirpur No. 6 market, watermelons are being sold for Tk60 to Tk70 per kg. According to the sellers, each watermelon weighs between 6-14 kgs, and they are sourced from the Barisal region.

When inquired about the price of watermelons, a seller named Shahjahan quoted Tk60 per kg for watermelons from Barisal and Tk70 per kg for Khulna’s watermelons. He admitted that the prices had recently surged.

When pressed for the reason behind the sudden increase, he simply said: "I don't know why the price has gone up. I am selling at a higher price as I brought it at a higher price."

Another vendor, Md Latif, showcased his watermelons, emphasizing their freshness and promised sweetness upon cutting. He justified the higher price by guaranteeing quality.

What customers say?

In these markets across the capital, many buyers are seen inquiring about prices and leaving without making a purchase, opting to buy less than they initially intended.

One shopper, Tanya, purchasing watermelons in the Farmgate area, shared that she bought a 6kg watermelon for Tk360 at a fixed price, hoping for quality.

Another customer, Mustafa, recounted buying a slightly over 10kg watermelon for Tk600, trusting that it would be of good quality as it was labelled as “Khulna watermelon”.

He observed that when people stopped buying, prices dropped momentarily, but with increasing temperatures, demand and prices rose again, illustrating the dynamics of the market.

Meanwhile, in the Paltan area, watermelons are cut and sold in vans for Tk20 per plate.

Ahsan Habib, a passerby, who bought a plate of watermelon from there, said: “I bought a plate of watermelon for Tk20, half of which was rotten. I bought another plate that too was rotten although the seller said it would be good. I paid him the price and left.”

Bangladesh Agri Farmers Association (Bafa) sold watermelons for up to 27 days at a fair price in five places in the capital with the slogan “farmer's product, farmer's price”.

At that time, watermelons weighing more than 5kg were sold at Tk100, watermelons weighing more than 7kg at Tk150, watermelons weighing more than 9kg at Tk 200, and watermelons weighing more than 11kg at Tk250 per piece.

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