Dhaka, Bangladesh
Kitchen markets overheated

Kitchen markets overheated

New tricks by sellers to dupe customers

News Report Amid government's assurance to keep the Ramadan market stable, retailers have started selling vegetables at higher prices through a newer trick putting consumers in trouble. Now one can hardly buy one kg vegetable at a price below Tk 50 though there is a big price gap in retail and wholesale markets. For example, the vegetable, which is selling at Tk 15 at the wholesale market is sold at Tk 40-50 at retail markets. Prices of essentials have marked a steady rise in the kitchen markets as retailers have apparently started selling vegetables at higher prices. With holy Ramadan set to begin later this month, prices of sugar, garlic, rice, soybean oil, meat, chicken and gram are showing an upward trend. Prices of essential commodities have marked a sharp rise in the city markets increasing sufferings of poor and low-income group consumers. FBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmed in an interview with the press said bulk buying of consumer items leads to price hike of essentials in the market. He urged the consumers to buy essential commodities in phases that will help stabilise the commodity market. However, sources in the market blamed a syndicate of businessmen who have hiked the price of sugar before holy Ramadan. The consumption of sugar at least doubles during Ramadan. The price of sugar increased further in the city's kitchen markets over the week as wholesalers hiked the price of the item citing supply shortage. Retailers said that wholesale price of sugar increased by Tk 50 a bag (50 kg) to Tk 3,400 a bag. The price of sugar increased by Tk 1-2 a kg on the retail market and the item was selling at Tk 72 a kg in most of the city markets. The price of sugar witnessed a sudden increase by Tk 7-8 on the wholesale market recently on the pretext of a supply shortage. Day after the price hike of sugar, wholesalers and refiners in a meeting with commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said that price of the item was not increased and it would remain stable during Ramadan. The commerce minister expressed his confidence that traders would not increase the price of sugar during Ramadan. Following the meeting, the price of sugar continued to increase in the markets. UNB adds: "The price hike of essentials, especially of vegetables, is very much visible. I find it absolutely unjustified if I compare it with the wholesale market," Barrister Ali Akkas Chowdhury who is a regular consumer at Shantinagar kitchen market told UNB on Friday. Consumers alleged traders suddenly hiked the prices of vegetables claiming that heavy rainfall damaged their crops. Market analysts, however, said a section of dishonest traders adopted the strategy to raise the prices of vegetables and other essentials well ahead of Ramadan so that they do not need to increase the prices during the holy month. "We've been seeing such a trend among traders for the last few years. They start making hefty profits well ahead of Ramadan," Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) President Ghulam Rahman told UNB on Friday. He said consumers have to succumb to their tricks -- in the past they used to hike prices during Ramadan month but now they are doing it well ahead of Ramadan. Rahman, also former Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), suggested forming consumers cooperative and farmers' cooperative to deal with the middlemen which may help reduce prices alongside ensuring the fair shares of farmers. Commerce Ministry officials said the prices, stocks and supply of essentials in the country are stable now. The CAB President, however, said there has not been much reflection on the market what the government is claiming in terms of stock and market monitoring. Earlier, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed warned of taking stern action against those who will try to create any artificial crisis of essentials in the market ahead of the holy month of Ramadan. According to traders at Karwan Bazar and Jatrabari wholesale markets, ladies' finger is selling at Tk 50-80 per 5 KGs depending on quality, while bringle at Tk 100-150 per 5 kgs, papaya at Tk 140-160 per 5 kgs, green chili at Tk 150-200 per 5 kg, four pieces of lemon at Tk 10-15, tomato at highest Tk 120 per 5 kgs and coriander leaves at Tk 50-60 per kg. "The prices of all types of vegetables are now showing a downtrend, as the supply is normal so far," wholesale trader at Karwan Bazar M Khorshed Alam told UNB. Asked about the absence of reflection in the retail markets, he said, "I don't know that. I'm telling you our stories." But a visit to the retail markets in the city revealed that no vegetable is selling below Tk 50 per kg. Only potato is selling at Tk 20 while other vegetables are selling at Tk 50 or over Tk 50 per kg. The market verification by the UNB correspondents revealed that garlic (local) price witnessed a hike of Tk 20-30 per kg as it is selling at Tk 120-130 per kg, while imported garlic price at Tk 240-250 per kg. However, domestic onion is selling at Tk 35 per kg, while the imported one at Tk 25 per kg. Mobarak Ahmed, a vegetable vendor at Shantinagar kitchen market, claimed that heavy rains caused damage to vegetables slowing down the supply. "You're seeing the impact on the market."

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