Panic buying, triggered by the coronavirus outbreak, has affected prices of essentials in the market. Prices of onions, rice, pulses, sugar, eggs have marked a northward trend this week.

Traders and market insiders said more customers than usual are rushing to kitchen markets and shops and buying more goods than they normally do.

Visiting different kitchen markets in the capital, including Karwan Bazar, Malibagh and city corporation market Mirpur-1, The Independent found that prices of daily commodities are almost out of reach of common people.

There was a shortage of sanitisers, baby diapers, dry foods, oral saline, and other necessary items at many places.

Talking to The Independent, buyers said that fearing the spread of the coronavirus in Bangladesh amid a global pandemic, many city-dwellers are stocking food items in their homes.

There are also fears of a possible lockdown amid the viral infection, which has already killed one and affected 20 in the country.

Prices of onion doubled in the last two days. At wholesale markets, local onions were being sold at Tk 80 per kg, up from Tk 40 a couple of days ago. The Myanmar variety was being sold at Tk 80 per kg, Chinese onions at Tk 60, Pakistani ones at Tk 70, and Egyptian onions at Tk 60-70 per kg.

The price of local garlic has risen by Tk 40-50 per kg in the last two days. Imported garlic was being sold at Tk 150-180 per kg yesterday, up from the earlier range of Tk 120-130. The local variety was Tk 100-130 per kg.

depending on the variety. Traders claimed that millers have increased prices of the items by Tk 1.5-2.0 per kg in the last three days amid rising demand in Dhaka, Chattogram and other big cities.

The finer quality of Miniket, Najirshail, and Jeerashail were being sold at Tk 60-68 per kg on Thursday, the last working day of the week.

Medium-quality Brridhan-28, Paijam, and Lata were traded at Tk 52-56 a kg, while the coarse variety of Swarna and BR-11 at Tk 40-42 a kg on the day.

Kamal Ahmed, a buyer at Shantinagar Bazar, expressed his anger at the price hike. He said incomes do not increase at the same pace at which the prices of essential commodities were rising in the country.

A grocer at Shantinagar Bazar told The Independent that people who have purchasing capacity are now busy stocking rice, pulses, oil, and other cooking ingredients. He acknowledged that both wholesalers and retailers were charging more for the items. He added that there was a huge stock of the products in the city’s wholesale markets.

Buyers said retailers and traders in Dhaka want to make more profit, which is hitting the common people.

Prices of vegetables have also increased. Prices of lemon, gourd, bitter gourd, cucumber, beans have been hiked.  

Potato prices have risen by Tk 5 per kg. The essential item was sold at Tk 25 (cardinal, diamond) and Tk 35 (local or carriage) a kg.

The price of a hali (four) of lemon has doubled. A hali was being sold at Tk 60-80. Cucumber was being sold at Tk 60 and eggplant at Tk 50.

Leafy vegetables also witnessed a hike in prices. They were selling at Tk 20-25 a bunch. Spinach was being sold at Tk 15. Red and green leafy vegetables were being sold at the same price. Bottle gourd leafy vegetables were available at Tk 20-30.

Abdullha Al Muztahid, a buyer, claimed that the price had doubled. “It is unfortunate that prices have increased when we are passing through a critical time,” he said.

Sugar prices increased to Tk 70-75 per kg from Tk 68-72 a kg. Egg prices jumped to Tk 108-110 per dozen on Thursday, which was Tk 90-96 a dozen a week back.

The price of loose soybean oil, which had shown a slight decline in February, has increased again. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data, the price increased to Tk 93 per litre from last week’s price of Tk 88 per litre.

Coarse lentil was traded at Tk 80-90 per kg and the finer quality at Tk 120-145 a kg on the day—a hike of Tk 10- 20 in a week.

Consumers said finer lentil, both local varieties and the imported Nepalese, which were already dearer, witnessed further price hikes in the last seven days. However, traders claimed that pulse prices had increased again due to a surge in import costs and shortfall in the local output.

The price of broiler chicken has also increased over the week. The going rate was Tk 125–130 per kg yesterday. Local varieties were selling at Tk 450 per kg.

Talking to The Independent, Monjur Mohammad Shahriar, deputy secretary of the Directorate of National Consumer’s Right Protection (DNCRP), said they are conducting drives on a regular basis to control the market prices.

“A total of seven teams are regulating the market prices—four from the DNCRP and three from the commerce ministry. We are conducting drives at 12 kitchen markets in the capital and also the super shop to maintain prices,” he said.

“We have fined traders violating market prices fixed by city corporations and also those who do not have a price chart,” he added.

Talking to The Independent, Palash Mahamud, executive director of the Conscious Consumer Society (CCS), said the present scenario regarding the kitchen markets is unexpected.

“The government should make a vigorous attempt to control prices for the sake of consumers. The authorities also should monitor market prices on a regular basis,” he added.

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215. Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215. Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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