At the kitchen markets, vegetable traders and shopkeepers are mostly sitting idle
Prices of daily essentials have fallen markedly in Dhaka’s kitchen markets due to diminished demand as a result of thousands of people leaving the capital during the government announced holiday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
At the kitchen markets, vegetable traders and shopkeepers are mostly sitting idle, reports UNB.
“There are not many customers now,” said Shariful Islam, a shopkeeper at Bangshal. “We’re selling a kg of onion at Tk40-50, potato at Tk20, aubergine at Tk30-40, tomato at Tk30, a piece of calabash at Tk40.”
Nahid Hasan, a vegetable vendor at Shantinagar, said he has failed to sell some vegetable that he bought from wholesale market. “I sell a kg of radish at Tk20, cucumber at Tk25, aubergine at Tk30. The prices were double only a few days ago,” he said.
Sobhan Talukder, a vegetable wholesaler at Kawranbazar, sales have been poor for the last several days.
“A large number of Dhaka residents left the capital during the general holidays and educational institutions have also been closed. Vegetable business is not doing well,” he added.
He said Sunday’s sales were better compared to that of previous days as hotels have been re-opened. “There’s no problem in the supply chain and other issues will be resolved soon. But the main problem is the lack of customers in Dhaka,” he added.
Sobhan said many wholesalers were reluctant to open their shops due to the panic caused by coronavirus. Many of them choose not to buy large amounts of vegetable from districts wholesalers, fearing that they would be unable to sell them.
Super shops have also reported declining sales. Rasel Hossain, a section in-charge of Meena Bazar at Moghbazar, said their sales have declined by a fourth in the last few days.
“Our sales increased several times during the panic buying but declined after the general holiday was announced,” he added.
Panic buying pushed up prices in Dhaka’s markets as people started hoarding various goods, fearing a lockdown would be imposed.
According to data from Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) on Sunday, each kg local onion was sold at Tk40-45, up from Tk50-60, while imported ones cost Tk35-45, up from Tk40-60 a week ago.
Potato prices have fallen by Tk2. Four eggs cost about Tk5 less.
Data from TCB also showed price of each kg of fine rice increased to Tk60-68 from Tk55-65 while price of coarse rice rose to Tk40-50 from Tk38-50 a week ago.
Stockists and wholesalers have said the informal lockdown affected the supply chain of the essential goods.
Khademul Islam, a stockist of Rajshahi, said they could not send vegetable to Dhaka due to a lack of labourers.
“Labourers are reluctant to work amidst the coronavirus crisis. So, we couldn’t send products to Dhaka. Even we are not getting proper price for our products in Dhaka’s wholesale market,” he added.
Khademul said low prices are discouraging farmers from harvesting vegetables.
Taj Uddin Bepari and Mizanur Raham, stockists of Jessore, said their vegetable business has taken a nosedive following the coronavirus panic.
“We used to send 25-30 trucks of vegetables to Dhaka daily only a week ago but now we send only 2-5 trucks. The demand came down due to lack of customers,” Taj said.
He said pointed gourd (potol) and aubergine prices fell by 50% to Tk20 and Tk8-10 respectively compared to a week ago. A van loaded with papaya now cost Tk2,000-2,200 down from Tk3,500-4,000, while a cluster of banana is now sold at Tk150, which cost Tk300 just a few days ago.
The government on March 23 decided to enforce social distancing across Bangladesh from March 26 — a little over two weeks after the country’s first three Covid-19 cases were detected — in order to prevent further spread of the deadly coronavirus.