Farmer Md Alek, a resident at a Savar village, grew cabbages on two bighas of land. He cultivated the crop with extra care as he applied neither chemical fertilisers nor any insecticide. Instead, Alek used compost fertiliser and pesticide made from neem leaf.
Three months later, he started harvesting medium-sized cabbages and sold those at Tk45 to Tk50 per piece. The production cost for each cabbage was Tk12 to Tk13.
A few varieties of vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and spinach he cultivates are chemical-free and safe, claimed Alek. He came to the "Krishoker Bazar" in the capital on Friday to sell his produce.
The "Krishoker Bazar" is a government initiative opened on the premises of Sech Bhaban on Manik Mia Avenue where farmers can sell their produce directly to consumers.
Farmers themselves brought their vegetables at the makeshift market on its opening day. The market has been declared as a safe vegetable bazar.
While talking to The Business Standard, Md Alek said, "Production cost [of vegetables] is not much. But it requires extra care during cultivation."
"We are cultivating chemical-free vegetables with the advice from agriculture officers. We have come here, hoping to get good prices of our produces."
While visiting the Krishoker Bazar, this correspondent found that farmers came with different types of vegetables such as bottle gourd, raw banana, eggplant, bunching onion, pumpkin and coriander.
Farmers from Savar, Dhamrai, Munshiganj and other nearby areas of Dhaka thronged the market with their vegetables.
Buyers were seen interested in purchasing those fresh vegetables even at higher prices than that in usual kitchen markets.
Bottle gourd was selling at Tk60-Tk70 per piece, pumpkin at Tk50 apiece, spinach per bunch at Tk30, radish leaves per bunch at Tk15-Tk20, eggplant at Tk60 per kg, pointed-gourd at Tk50 per kg and cauliflower was selling at Tk50 per piece.
Farmer Monir Hossain, who came from Hemayetpur of Savar, said, "We work hard to produce vegetables but do not get fair price at local market. We cannot make buyers understand that our produces are safe and free of chemical."
"We hope to get good prices at this market," he added.
The agriculture ministry, the Department of Agriculture Extension and the Department of Agriculture Marketing jointly opened the market which will sit on every Friday and Saturday morning.
Farmers, who acquired certificates and ID cards from their respective upazila agriculture officers, will only be allowed to sell their vegetables at the market.
No other traders will be able to set up their shops, said officials of the organisations.
The mobile laboratory of the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority will regularly perform tests on vegetables at the market to confirm if those are actually chemical-free.
On the first day, the vegetable market witnessed the arrival of a poor number of outside buyers. Most of them were officials of the three government organisations.
One of them was Nasimul Islam who bought bottle gourd, cauliflower and raw bananas from the market.
Nasimul said, "We provide all necessary support to farmers. We know these vegetables are safe. That is why we have bought them."
Prices of vegetables at the market will fall after a few days, he added.
At the inaugural ceremony of Krishoker Bazar, Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruzzaman said two villages of every upazila have been selected where vegetables and other products will be cultivated without using chemical.
Such a safe vegetable market will be spread all over the country, he added.
He expected that farmers will get fair prices of their produces at the market.