Dhaka, Bangladesh
Price rises warrant intervention

Price rises warrant intervention

Prices of essential commodities have seen another round of hike in recent days. As different media reported after visiting different kitchen markets in the capital in the past few days, almost all kinds of vegetables sell at higher than Tk 50 a kilogram. Some vegetables like asparagus bean, bitter gourd are selling at even Tk 80 a kg. Tomatoes were selling at Tk 100 a kg just a week ago but now sell at Tk 140 a kilo. A similar trend is shown by carrots. At the same time, rice price also marked a rise in the past week. Every type of rice, coarse or fine, has seen a Tk 2-3 rise per kg. A kilogram of coarse rice sells now at Tk 42-44, while Najirshail sells at Tk 70 a kg. Green chilies became too hot--its price jumped to Tk 200 a kg in July and still shows no sign of decline. Garlic and ginger are also much dearer as the local varieties of the two spices sell at Tk 140 and Tk 240 respectively while those imported from China sell at Tk 100 and Tk 200 respectively. Meanwhile, in a sudden move like in the past year, India on Monday put a ban on export of its onion, an essential item that was showing a rising trend in prices both at wholesale and retail levels in recent days. Many consumers have already started to see the spectre of onion-free life they experienced last year when the neighbouring country, the major source of onion imports, put a similar ban on the product essential for almost all Bangladeshi and Indian cuisines. Local varieties of onion reportedly sold at Tk 70 a kg on Monday while the Indian variety sold at Tk 55 a kg. The prices jumped to Tk 100 and Tk 70 a kg respectively on Tuesday. It is true that we are still far from being self-reliant in producing onion, garlic or ginger. We have to depend heavily on India and China in particular for the items. It is, hence, small wonder that import ban or costly import will lead to a sharp rise in onion prices on the local market. The same logic applies to green chilies as the item has reportedly been washed away by the recent recurrent flooding in north, south and southwestern areas of the country, and the country is highly dependent on the import of the item from India now. The flooding has also inundated various vegetable fields in the areas leading the prices of the vegetables to go up at the source levels. But the rise in the rice prices has surprised all, especially those who monitor the essentials’ market regularly. They are all the more so as the country reaped a bumper crop in the recent boro season and the aus yield was also bumper in the just-ended season. The stock of rice in government warehouses is satisfactory as well. Yet, millers hiked the prices of rice on the excuse of buying paddy at higher costs. In this context, the government authorities have to play a role by checking, in the first place, if there is any maneuvering from the unscrupulous traders to hike the essentials’ prices. Moreover, it also needs to immediately find ways to intervene in the market of essential commodities to keep the prices within the reach of common people.

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