Although the prices of some essential items, including ginger and garlic, have come down at the wholesale market in the capital for lack of customers amid bad weather and lockdown, those were still selling at higher prices at retail markets.
Wholesalers said the ginger price declined by Tk 100 from Tk 250 a kg while that of garlic by Tk 30 from Tk 130 on Tuesday compared to two days ago. However, the prices of both the kitchen items remained high at retail markets.
Talking to UNB, several retailers said they were selling ginger for Tk 280-320 a kg and garlic at Tk 130- Tk 200 per kg.
They said they were selling those at the high price as they bought the items spending much from the wholesale market several days ago.
Importers said Bangladesh imports huge garlic and ginger from different countries, including China which is a major source, but COVID-19 has affected the import.
Consumers alleged that some unscrupulous traders have hiked the prices of commodities to make a quick buck during Ramadan.
Shamsur Rahman, a stockist at Shyambazar, told UNB that the prices of ginger, garlic and onions declined significantly at the wholesale market compared to the last two days for lack of customers.
“We sold onion at Tk 43-45 a kg, ginger for Tk 150 per kg and garlic at Tk 130 each kg on Tuesday against Tk 50, Tk 240-250 and Tk 130 two days back respectively. The prices came down for lack of customers amid the bad weather,” he said.
Shamsur said many customers stocked the items earlier, pushing the demand down. “Besides, there’s an impact of the coronavirus.”
Manik Shaha, a wholesaler at Shyambazar, told UNB that they sold local onion at Tk 45 and imported one at Tk 40 per kg.
“The onion price remains stable. But garlic and ginger prices that shot up a week ago due to the supply crunch have come down for lack of customers,” he added.
The wholesaler said there is a huge stock of ginger at ports that could not be unloaded for lack of labourers and slow port activities.
Rashedul Hasan, a shopkeeper of Old Dhaka, said they were selling ginger at Tk 300 per kg while garlic at Tk 130-200 each kg as they bought those in high prices from wholesale market several days ago.
Nasir Uddin, a resident of Bangshal, said he bought ginger and garlic for Tk 300 and Tk 200 a kg respectively from a shop located in his locality. “During the month of Ramadan, traders try to make a quick buck every year hiking the prices of essentials cashing in on lax monitoring. Traders should be humane under this coronavirus circumstances,” he said.
He also alleged that most of the shopkeepers do not hang the price list and sell essentials arbitrarily.
Bangladesh produces around 0.45 million tonnes of garlic every year against the demand of 0.6 million tonnes. The rest is imported mostly from China, according to official sources.
Meanwhile, brinjal, the traditional ingredient of Iftar, was found selling at Tk 60-70 per kg which was Tk 40-50 a week ago. Cucumber was selling for Tk 30-50 kg while carrot at Tk 50 and tomato at Tk 40-50 in capital retail markets.
Besides, the price of gram rose to Tk 80-90 per kg from Tk 60-70 while that of pea increased to Tk 50-55 a kg from Tk 40-45 and sugar to Tk 70-75 from Tk 65-70.
Broiler chicken was selling at Tk 130-140 per kg while beef at Tk 600-620 a kg and mutton for Tk 800-900 a kg.
Among vegetables, papaya was selling for Tk 35-40 a kg, bitter gourd at Tk 40-50 per kg and green chilli at Tk 60-80 a kg.
Talking to UNB, Ghulam Rahman, chairman of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said some unscrupulous traders are hiking the prices of essential commodities to make extra profits.
“The government should strengthen monitoring in different ways so that unscrupulous traders can’t hike prices of essentials amid the coronavirus crisis,” he added.