The prices of green chilli shot up to more than Tk 200 in the city kitchen markets with floods damaging crop fields in many districts leading to supply crunch.
Vendors in the capital said the prices of each kilogram of green chili increased to Tk 220 from Tk60-80 last week because of supply shortage. They said prices of different vegetables also increased in recent days.
Meanwhile, the price of broiler chickens came down by Tk20 from Tk150 per kg.
According to official figures, more than 8,000 hectares of chilli fields have been damaged by flood so far. Bangladesh produces around 0.14 million tonnes of green chilli a year.
Shahriar Alam, a resident of Bangshal of old Dhaka, said he bought a kg of green chili for Tk220 last week which was Tk60-80 two weeks ago.
“A kg tomato cost Tk130 which was Tk50-60 a couple of weeks ago. Prices of most vegetables increased in the kitchen market due to supply shortage,” he said.
Abu Bakar Siddique, vegetable trader of Najirabazar of Old Dhaka, said he sold each kg green chilli at Tk200-Tk220, tomato at Tk120-130, papaya at Tk60, bitter gourd at Tk80, lemon (four pieces) at Tk20-32, brinjal and pointed gourd Patal at Tk50-60 on Monday.
“Several items at the kitchen market somewhat went up in the last couple of days. We have nothing to do if the price increases in the wholesale market. We sell these in some profit,” he also said.
‘Survival is tough’
Zillur Rahman, a shopkeeper of the area, said they were selling each kg of local onion at Tk40-50 and imported one at Tk30, garlic at Tk80 -100 and ginger at Tk140-150.
“However, we are selling each kg cardamom at Tk3,200, cinnamon at Tk500 and cloves at Tk1,200 which somewhat increased as a second largest festival coming here. The prices could further increase if the customers had available here like previous years ahead of Eid-ul-Azha,” he said.
He said there is a good demand for the spices during Eid, so their prices may go up in the coming days of the second largest religious festival of Muslims in Bangladesh.
Abdus Sobhan Talukder, a vegetable wholesaler at Kawran Bazar said floods have affected vegetable production.
“We’re struggling because of COVID-19 and the flood is another curse. Our business is on the wane. It’s very tough to survive now,” he said.
Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said that the government took different initiatives to reduce the Tk 349 crore damage caused by the flood.
“Flood-hit and small farmers will also get free saplings of Aman to plant through rice trans-planter at a cost of Tk 54 lakh. Around 50,000 farmers will be provided fertiliser and seeds of Maskolai worth Tk 3.82 crore if they fail to produce Aman in flood-hit areas,” he said.
The minister said in the first phase, floods from June 25 to July 8 affected approximately 76,310 hectares of paddy fields and 344,000 farmers in 14 districts. In the second phase, from July 11 to July 19, around 83,000 hectares of paddy fields in 26 districts, including the previous 14 districts, were damaged.
Even if it were to end today, merely 207 days into the calendar, the year 2020 has probably inflicted enough misery already on humanity across all corners of the planet, such that none would object to the application of the old Latin phrase ‘Annus horribilis’ (horrible year) in describing it.
The pandemic induced by a novel coronavirus, and the ruthless manner in which it has ravaged large swathes of the world population, with a distinct predilection for the elderly or otherwise vulnerable, is an obvious game-changer. With another 158 days still left in the year, already people can’t wait for it all to be over.
The year has taken away many noted personalities around the world and Bangladesh, including national professor Dr Anisuzzaman, journalist Kamal Lohani and engineer extraordinaire Jamilur Reza Choudhuryand more due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other causes of death.
To honour the deceased, today we recall the contributions of some of the most noted individuals from the artistic and cultural firmament of Bangladesh, who all were taken away from us in the course of 2020 (in order of their time of death from the beginning of the year to July 2020.)
Dr Ashraf Siddiqui
Ekushey Padak winner internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi folklorist, researcher, essayist and poet Dr Ashraf Siddiqui passed away on March 19, 2020 at the age of 93.
Emerged as a promising young poet in the 1940s, Dr Ashraf cemented his legacy with around 500 poems including his legendary poem ‘Taleb Master’; 75 books including short stories, novels, children’s literature and many academic research articles on the folklore of Bangladesh in his seven-decade-long career. During his tenure as the Director-General of Bangla Academy from 1976-1982, he started the annual ‘Amar Ekushey Book Fair’ from 1977 in Bangla Academy ground.
In his successful career, Dr Siddiqui prestigiously held the positions of Kendrio Bangla Unnoyon Board director, chairman of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), president of Nazrul Academy and Nazrul Institute, principal of Jagannath College and more. National film award-winning film ‘Dumurer Phool’ (1978), directed by eminent filmmaker Subhash Dutta, was made from his story ‘Golir Dharer Chheleti’.
Ferdousi Ahmed Lina
One of the most familiar faces in television dramas and films, actress Ferdousi Ahmed Lina passed away on April 18 at the age of 63, due to kidney failure.
Ferdousi Ahmed Lina began her career in 1975 as a television artist and made her first appearance in BTV drama 'Kalo Kokila' in 1978. She made her film debut in 'Rajalakshmi Shrikanta', directed by Bulbul Ahmed. Her last film was 'Debdas', directed by late Chashi Nazrul Islam.
In her acclaimed career, Lina acted in several popular television dramas including 'Gulshan Avenue', drama series 'Ghatak Pakhi Bhai', 'Nandini' and more. She was also an official at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).
Noted actor, film producer and director Rana Hamid passed away at a hospital in the capital on May 9, due to stomach cancer and kidney complications. He was a member of Bangladesh Film Censor Board.
A known face from the 90’s cinema industry in Bangladesh, Rana garnered prominence through his performance in the film ‘Gang Leader’ and also made several films including 'Masud Rana Ekhon Dhakay' and 'Dhakar Rani'.
During his career, Rana was a former Director of Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC) and was a member of Bangladesh Film Artistes’ Association.
Perhaps one of the biggest loss of Bangladesh in 2020, National Professor Dr Anisuzzaman passed away on May 14 at the age of 83. He was tested positive for COVID-19.
As one of the eminent Bangladeshi academics who earned massive respect from academicians around the world, Dr Anisuzzaman taught at Dhaka and Chittagong universities, was a post-doctoral fellow at University of Chicago, and a Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellow at University of London.
In his glorious career in academia, Prof Anisuzzaman was also associated with research projects of United Nations University and was a visiting fellow at the University of Paris, North Carolina State University, University of Calcutta and a visiting professor at Visva-Bharati of India.
For his immense contribution to the education sector of Bangladesh, he was awarded Ekushey Padak and Swadhinata Padak, the highest civilian awards of the country. The Indian government had awarded him Padma Bhushan, the country's third-highest civilian honour, for his distinguished service in fields of Bangla literature and education.
Dr Anisuzzaman has also served as the President of Bangla Academy till his death.
Ajmeri Zaman Reshma
Legendary actor and cultural personality Ajmeri Zaman Reshma passed away on May 20 due to old-age complications, at the age of 82.
Reshma earned the reputation of being an actor in the pre- and post-independence film industry of Bangladesh. She has also worked on the country’s theatre sphere and television as a presenter and newscaster.
She was hugely acclaimed for her performance on television in the Bangla adaptation by Munier Chowdhury of William Shakespeare’s "Taming of the Shrew," titled "Mukhora Romoni Boshikoron," with co-stars Golam Mustafa, Hasan Imam, Laila Hasan and many others in 1970. The drama was directed by artist Mostofa Monwar.
Debuted with the Urdu film "Jeena Bhi Mushkil," she tantalized her audiences in both Urdu and Bengali films like "Chokori, "Bhawal Shonnyashi," "Noyontara," "Indhan," "Darshan," "Chand aur Chandni," "Phir Milenge Hum Dono," "Shurjo Uthar Agey," "Megher Pore Megh" and "Shesh Uttor.".
Mustafa Kamal Sayed
Another epic loss for Bangladesh credited to the COVID-19 pandemic, eminent Bangladeshi television producer Mustafa Kamal Sayed passed away on May 31 at the age of 75.
Being the man who propelled Bangladeshi television contents as one of the founding producers of Bangladesh Television (BTV) from 1967 to 2004, Sayed joined popular Bangladeshi television channel NTV as its Chief of Programme after retiring from BTV. He took both the channels into massive heights with quality contents, along with launching a handful of young and promising talents in the television industry of Bangladesh who later established themselves as celebrities.
Syed was the recipient of National Award for Best Music Producer of Television in 1975.
Ekushey Padak winner veteran journalist and cultural personality Kamal Lohani became the most recent victim of the COVID-19 in the arts and culture sphere of Bangladesh on June 20.
Starting his celebrated career as a journalist in the Daily Millat in 1955, Kamal joined country’s renowned cultural institution Chhayanaut in 1962 as its General Secretary. He also formed ‘Kranti’, a left cultural organization in 1967 and served as the head of news of Shwadhin Bangla Betar Kendra during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
Throughout his eventful career, Kamal Lohani worked at reputed Bangladeshi newspapers including Daily Azad, Daily Sangbad, Daily Purbodesh, Dainik Barta and more. He has also served as the President of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ).
Alongside his journalistic achievements, Kamal Lohani also performed his duty as the Director General of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) from 2009 to 2011.
The Bengali writer who is known for his immensely popular classic ‘Memsaheb’, writer Nimai Bhattacharya passed away on June 25 at the age of 89 in Kolkata, India.
Born in Magura district under the British Presidency in 1931, the ‘Banga Bibhushan’ winner writer has penned over 150 books including ''Memsaheb'', ''Diplomat'', ''Minibus'', ''Inquilab'' and ''Imon Kalyan'' in his career.
His most popular novel ‘Memsaheb'’ was adapted into a commercially-successful movie starring Uttam Kumar and Aparna Sen in the lead roles.
The golden-voiced ‘King of Playback’ in the Bangladeshi music industry, Andrew Kishore, one of the most popular singers of the country, passed away on July 6 at the age of 64.
A record eight-times National Film Award winner, Andrew Kishore lost his long-fought battle with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer which he was diagnosed with on September, last year. He was receiving treatment in Singapore since then and came to his motherland on June 11.
An impossible number of 15,000 songs in his illustrious career, some of Andrew Kishore’s monumentally popular tracks are ‘Jiboner Golpo, Achhe Baki Olpo’, ‘Amar Buker Moddhe Khane’, ‘Dak Diyachhen Doyal Amare’, ‘Hayre Manush Rongin Fanush’, ‘Amar Shara Deho Kheyo Go Mati’, ‘Amar Babar Mukhe Prothom Jedin Shunechilam Gaan’, ‘Bhengeche Pinjor Meleche Dana’, ‘Bhalobese Gelam Shudhu’ etc.
With the occasion of sacrifice -- Eid-ul-Azha -- only days away, cattle markets have sprung across the country both in traditional and digital ways but the turnout of buyers is still low apparently fearing the transmission of coronavirus.
To ease the hassle of traders, numerous online cattle markets have started operating. What is more interesting this year that the government endorsed online platforms replacing traditional cattle markets.
Many district administrations have created websites and mobile applications on their own and, in some cases, they are even operating those through Facebook pages.
A mobile application ‘Poshur Haat’, developed by Sirajganj district administration in collaboration with local-based Survival Family Technologies, is turning out to be a solution for the entire Rajshahi division.
Sirajganj DC Dr Faruk Ahmed and ADC ABM Rowshan Kabir conceived the idea of a unified online platform for the Rajshahi area to trade cattle.
Assistant Commissioner of Sirajganj Md Masudur Rahman, also the project manager of Poshur Haat App, told UNB that it has been developed in a way so that every district can be connected with this platform.
“Already, 1,656 farmers of eight districts have started trading through the app and website, and the transaction of Tk 81,17,992 have taken place...outside Rajshahi, the farmers of Bhola and Kishoreganj are also using our app,” he said.
Introduced on July 13, sacrificial animals can be traded using this app with granular controls for administrations in each district. The app is available on Google Play Store.
A ‘Super Admin’ from the control room in Sirajganj enables other district administrations’ access by creating the ‘District Administration Admin’ role. These two types of users mostly monitor app functionality and transactions.
Livestock Admins verify information provided by the sellers and approves them for trading. After the livestock admin verifies all the authenticity of the information and approves the seller, the seller will be connected to the app through it.
Masudur Rahman told UNB that the mobile application and site (www.poshurhaat.com) can be used even after Eid-ul-Azha to help out the impoverished small-scale farmers. “It’ll serve as a direct connection between farmers and livestock department...any animal from anywhere of the country can be sold through the app,” he said.
He said the app will help consumers avoid the risk of coronavirus infection from the traditional cattle market. “Also, the sellers will be benefitted because the app is completely free and they don’t need to pay any middleman,” he said.
In Cumilla, the district administration has taken an exceptional initiative starting an online sacrificial animal market to prevent the transmission of coronavirus.
Through the 'Cumilla Online Animal Market' app, buyers and sellers will be able to see cows available for buying on their mobile phones. “We’ve created this online platform to avoid health risks,” Deputy Commissioner of Cumilla Md Abul Fazal Meer said.
The app has been launched in collaboration with the district livestock office which has already uploaded the images of 20,000 cattle. Desired cattle will reach the buyer's house as soon as the price and choice are matched.
Narsingdi district administration has introduced a website titled 'Online Bikini: Narsingdi Korbani Hat' alongside 'Online Narsingdi Korbani Hat' mobile application on Saturday.
In addition to traditional sacrificial markets, buyers will be able to buy animals online at home through them.
These two Narsingdi-based online platforms include a list of butchers in the area. An initiative has also been taken to test them (butchers) for Covid-19 three days before Eid-ul-Azha.
On Tuesday, Faridpur district administration and district livestock department jointly launched 'Faridpur Online Korbanir Pashur Hat' Facebook page to ensure the sale and purchase of sacrificial animals online avoiding the crowds.
Through the page, one can purchase cows and goats at home and take delivery although there is an option for getting the processed meat delivered with additional charges.
Cattle farmers of the district can visit the group of the same name and post the pictures, weights and prices of cows and goats on their farms.
Alongside privately owned online platforms to buy and sell cattle, these government-backed sites and applications will surely help the citizens in remote areas to stay away from the traditional haats in the wake of Covid-19. However, experts are fearing that online cattle commerce could be oversaturated with alternatives this year.
With a view to limiting the possibility of the sacrificial cattle markets turning into Coronavirus hotspots, attendance at this year's haats across the country will be strictly regulated by the authorities.
Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) Minister Md Tajul Islam disclosed as much in an online interview with UNB.
“Entry to haats will be regulated this year. Only one member of a family will be permitted to enter the market through a specific entry point,” he said.
Asked about the extra number of people besides buyers and sellers who crowd around haats usually, Minister Tajul confirmed that it is they who will face the severest restrictions this timne around. “We will try to prevent the entry of any spectator.”
Asked about maintaining health guidelines and social distancing in the capital and other cities and municipalities, the Minister said a meeting with the Ministries of Commerce and Home was held in this regard.
Underscoring the importance of the act of sacrifice at Eid-ul-Adha for Muslims, the attendees at the meeting said there would be no restrictions on sacrificing animals.
However, recognising the possibility of a busy day in the haats turning into what is known as 'super-spreader event', the government also backed the launch of a digital platform for buying and selling cattle.
“But it’s not easy to purchase animals online, the way we usually purchase clothes online,” Minister Tajul said, before carefully adding: “Despite that, I urge people to purchase sacrificial animals from online platforms.”
“Even if a small number of people purchase sacrificial animals from the online market, it will reduce gathering in other markets,” he added.
The LGRD Minister urged all concerned to arrange each haat over a larger space than usual in a disciplined way.
Urging people to enter animal markets being equipped with protective gears like face masks and caps, the Minister said “Only one member from a family is encouraged to come to the market”.
However, it is not possible for the government to totally ignore the fervour and enthusiasm that families experience over the entire process of qurbani - from selecting the cow or goat or whatever else, to completing the purchase, bringing it home and nurturing it all the way through to that final, fatal act in the Almighty’s name.
Therefore another meeting will be held in this regard, to finalize just how far to go with regulating people’s behaviour.
Besides the government, some private business entities have brought digital cattle markets (Qurbanir haat) to help the mass people in carrying out their religious duties overcoming the COVID-19 threat.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division, e-CAB, and Bangladesh Dairy Farmers' Association (BDFA) jointly launched the Digital Haat on July 7.
Digital Haat’s website is associated with 51 selling partners.
Website Address: https://www.digitalhaat.net/
Sacrificial animals are available on Bengal Meat website under the price range of Tk 30,000 to Tk 40 lakhs. Their displayed cattle vary in size and weight (50kg to 500kg).
Website Address: https://qurbani.bengalmeat.com/
Contact No. 09678-444-555 (Monday to Saturday, 9 AM - 6 PM)
Kings Red Meat
The Facebook cattle shop named ‘Kings Red Meat’ has also launched an online market for customers with the low-to-medium budget along with slaughtering and home delivery service.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kingsredmeat/
Sadeeq Agro has also initiated to sell cattle through their website along with home delivery service after slaughtering.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Sadeeq-AGRO-620716257950017/
Contact: Call 01771777116, 01980008886, 01730135969
Besides these digital cattle markets, there are some other websites where sacrificial animals are available:
Power Division has finally asked all the power distribution entities to directly purchase electricity from solar mini-grid operators to save their investment.
According to sources at the Power Division, the distribution entities will now purchase electricity from mini-grids at a tariff to be settled through a tripartite negotiation on a case-to-case basis assessment.
“The private sponsors of mini-grids, the distribution entities concerned and the financing agency will set the tariff for the mini-grid projects through their joint assessment,” Mohammad Alauddin, Chairman of Sreda and Additional Secretary at the Power Division, told UNB.
Power Division officials said a letter was recently sent to all the power distribution entities to implement the government decision.
They said once the distribution entities start purchasing power from mini-grids, the consumers of their areas will get electricity at the same rate applicable in the grid areas.
“That means the consumers of these mini-grids will not require to pay higher bills for electricity while the mini-grid operators will get rid of their problem,” said a Power Division official.
According to the sources, 26 solar mini-grids, with their total generation capacity of 5 MW, were set up at different off-grid areas of the country as part of an initiative, “Remote Area Power Supply System (RAPSS)”, to ensure access of people living in remote areas to electricity.
These are mostly the remote islands of the country, said they said.
Under the RAPSS concept, the government allowed private investors to set up solar power plants and install mini-grids for a tenure of 20 years with financial support from the two financing agencies and sell electricity directly to the consumers of these remote areas.
The state-owned Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) made 80 percent of the financing in the projects while private investors 20 percent, they said.
The mini-grid operators sell electricity directly to consumers in their own rates settled under RAPSS policy where tariff is about Tk 30 per unit.
During implementation of the projects, there was commitment from the government that the power distribution companies will not reach these areas with their service within the project tenure of 20 years.
But the distribution utilities, especially the Rural Electrification Board (REB), expanded their power supply to those areas amid reported political pressure, said the sources.
When the government utilities moved to these areas, the consumers of the mini-grids gave up their connections from mini-grids and started taking new connections from power distribution utilities which put the sponsors and IDCOL in serious financial trouble.
Against this backdrop, the Power Division came up to save the mini-grids sponsors by taking a decision that the power distribution utilities will purchase electricity from the solar mini-grids like the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). It is now purchasing electricity from independent power producers (IPPs).