Onion prices doubled to Tk60-70 in just three days in the retail markets amid panic buying triggered by coronavirus outbreak.
Traders said prices of each kilogram of garlic increased by Tk 30-40, rice Tk5-7, potato Tk5, Oil Tk2-3, egg Tk4 (four pieces) compared to a week earlier in retail markets.
They blamed the rise on customers who are buying essentials in large quantities and stockpiling them fearing a lockdown to prevent coronavirus from spreading.
People have paid no heed to the government’s assurance that there is enough in the stock. The trend of panic buying of essentials began in Dhaka after the detection of the first coronavirus case in the country in the second week of March.
While visiting several retail markets, UNB correspondents found each kg onion being sold at Tk60-70, which was 30-35 on Wednesday. At places, the prices had shot up to Tk80.
A kg of garlic cost Tk150-180 on Saturday which was Tk110-150 a week ago. Egg price (four pieces) increased to Tk36 from Tk32 during this period.
Saturday’s data from state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) showed that local onion was sold at Tk60-70 while imported ones at Tk50-70. These items cost Tk40-50 and Tk40-60 respectively last week.
Local variety of garlic was sold at Tk130-140 while imported ones cost 150-180. They were sold at Tk70-80 and 130-150 respectively a week ago.
TCB data showed that fine rice prices increased to Tk58-65 from Tk55-60 while coarse rice went up to Tk38-50 from 34-40 in a week. A kg of soybean oil (bottle) was sold at Tk105-110 and super palm oil at Tk83-85 which cost Tk95-105 and Tk80-82 respectively a week ago.
Manik Saha, a wholesaler at Shyambazar, said onion prices doubled since Wednesday as buyers were purchasing huge quantities but now the prices were coming down in the absence of customers.
Abbas Uddin, a retailer of Bangshal, said they were selling the product at high prices as the demand was huge. “Today, we’re selling onion at Tk60, garlic at Tk160 and lentil at Tk120. Their prices increased compared to last week,” he said.
Faruk Molla, a rice trader of Karwanbazar, said they were selling fine rice at Tk64-68 on Saturday which was Tk55-58 last week and coarse rice at Tk56-57 which was Tk48-50 respectively a week ago.
“The price increased following stockpiling amid panic buying. Some people bought rice for three months,” he added.
Vegetable prices remained somewhat stable. Aubergine was selling for Tk 50-60 a kg, papaya Tk 35-40 a kg, bitter gourds Tk 70-80, okra Tk75-80, bottle gourds Tk50-55 a piece, cucumber Tk 35-40 a kg, carrot Tk40-45 and tomatoes Tk 30-40. Besides, green chili was selling for Tk 70-80 a kg.
Refined sugar and broiler chicken prices remained unchanged.
Rui fish was selling for Tk 250-350 a kg and Catla Tk300, depending on their size and quality at Kaptanbazar of the city. Pangas cost Tk 130-170 a kg and Tilapia Tk 120-150.
SM Nazer Hossain, vice-president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said businessmen are always looking for a chance to increase prices.
“Now the traders want to take advantage of coronavirus outbreak and hike prices. The government should strengthen monitoring to control the essentials market,” he said.