Retail vegetable prices way higher than wholesale rates

Okra sold at Tk20 per kg in Karwan Bazar wholesale market, while only around two kilometres away it sold at Tk40 in retail markets in Moghbazar area on Friday.

The retail prices of vegetables were way higher than the wholesale rates in the city markets including the ones in Karwan Bazar, Dilu road, Hatirpool, Noyatola, and Moghbazar areas, said customers as well as traders.

In Karwan Bazar, korolla (bitter gourd) sold at Tk40 to Tk45, chichinga (snake gourd) at Tk40, potol (pointed gourd) at Tk50, papaya at Tk40 to Tk45, dhundal (sponge gourd) at Tk40, potato at Tk35 per kg, while medium-sized gourds sold at Tk30 per piece at wholesale level on Friday. All the prices jumped by at least Tk10 at retail level in the same market.

Meanwhile, korolla sold at Tk60, chichinga at Tk60, papaya at Tk70, potol at Tk80, potato at Tk40-45 per kg, and medium-sized gourds at Tk60 per piece at retail markets in Dilu road, Hatirpool, Noyatola, and Moghbazar.

Asked why the retail prices were so much higher than the wholesale prices, Md Hridoy, a vegetable seller in Moghbazar, told TBS, “We have to pay shop rent along with transportation costs, which are very high. Besides, some of the vegetables we buy perish or get damaged. We would not be able to cover our expenses if we cannot sell vegetables at such high prices.”

Md Shahidul Islam, a shopper in Karwan Bazar, told TBS, “To buy vegetables at wholesale rate, I have to buy at least 5 kg, but I do not need one type of vegetable in such a large quantity. So, no matter how much I want to save money, I cannot buy it at a low price.

“The wholesale rate for Brinjal is Tk40 per kg in Karwan Bazar while I had to buy 1 kg for Tk60 in the same market.”

Abul Kalam, a wholesaler in Karwan Bazar, said, “We bring 2,000 kg to 3,000 kg of vegetables from Manikganj to Karwan Bazar every day. Compared to last week, vegetable prices have decreased by Tk10-15 per kg this week. Chichinga, korolla, and dhundal sales at Tk40 per kg, which was Tk60 last week.”

Consumers Association of Bangladesh President Ghulam Rahman told TBS, “One of the reasons for the price hike at retail level is that a portion of vegetables brought from the wholesale market get wasted. Besides, high shop rent is also a big factor.”

He suggested launching farmers’ cooperatives to reduce the prices for consumers.

“The crops produced by farmers reach consumers through middlemen. This process damages the products and drives up their prices. Farmers’ cooperatives will bridge the gap between the producers and consumers, enabling farmers to get good prices, and consumers to get quality vegetables at low prices,” he said.

Onion price hits Tk80 per kg

Onion prices this week have increased by Tk10-13 compared to last week in the capital’s kitchen markets.

On Friday, the retail price of onion in city markets was Tk80 per kg, which was around Tk70 a week ago.

Mohammad Iman Ali, a seller in Karwan Bazar, said, “We sold onions for Tk35 per kg before Eid-ul-Fitr. It increased to Tk70 last week, but now we are selling it for Tk80. Currently, we buy onion at Tk73 per kg at wholesale market.”

Mohammad Sahidul, a customer in Karwan Bazar, said “I bought half a kilogram of onion as its price was too high.”

Ghulam Rahman, president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said there is sufficient onion stock available in the country, but still the traders are hiking its price through syndication.

“Middlemen are benefitting from the current price hikes, not the farmers. We proposed imposing a high import duty for onion during its harvest season in the country, and removal of that duty at the end of the season. This would have controlled the price automatically.

“Instead of implementing the proposal, the government made a licence from the agriculture ministry mandatory for importing onions. This was not effective for controlling the price. If import of 2 lakh to 3 lakh tonnes of onion is allowed today, its price will drop by Tk30 per kg tomorrow.”

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