Vegetable growers in the country's northern part have been badly affected by the shutdown put in force to fight Covid-19 pandemic as they are having too few wholesalers to sell their produce to.
Farmers are being forced to sell radish for Tk2.50 per kilogram, bitter gourd (Korola) for Tk3 per kg and eggplant for Tk5-6 per kg at the different markets in Bogura, including Mahasthan Haat, the largest vegetable wholesale market in the region.
But only two/three weeks back, bitter gourd would sell at Mahasthan Haat for Tk10 to Tk15 per kg and the two other vegetables for Tk10-12 per kg.
The farmers and local wholesalers say prices of all kinds of vegetables except potatoes have gone down as the buyers from other parts of the country are not coming due to the transportation crisis.
The scenario of the whole northern part of the country, including Rajshahi, Dinajpur and Rangpur, is the same as Mahasthan and Fateh Ali markets.
So, there are fears that a huge amount of vegetables will rot due to the drastic price fall in almost all districts.
Government officials concerned, however, are hopeful about minimising the loss as the process is going on to buy these vegetables from the farmers and increase the government relief. With this, they think, people will get enough food and farmers will also be saved.
Md Abdul Alim, who came to Mahasthan Haat from Jori village of Shibganj upazila with 200 kilograms of bitter gourd, sold them for Tk3 per kg.
"After bearing all expenses, including transport and haat tax, I have only Tk75 in my hands. With this money I have to buy all the belongings for my family," said Md Abdul Alim.
Saju Mia, a farmer of Panch Paika village of Bogura's Gabtoli upazila, brought 80 kg of radish to Mahasthan Haat, hiring a van with Tk250. He even wanted to sell 80kg radish for Tk200 but hardly got any buyer on Saturday noon.
Wholesale potato dealer Rabbani Hossain said the price of potatoes increased from Tk2 to Tk3 per kg in the last two weeks because this item was served with rice as relief.
Eggplant is selling for Tk8-9 per kg, okra for Tk14-15, tomatoes for Tk10 and pointed gourd (potol) for Tk15 at the retail market. But potatoes are selling for Tk20 to Tk22 per kg.
The prices of vegetables in Rangpur have also gone down due to the higher supply than the demand, businessmen and farmers have said.
Jahangir Alam, a leaseholder of Sattibari Haat, the largest wholesale vegetable market in the district, said from the haat, only 4-5 trucks of vegetables are being supplied to the other districts daily, which was previously 40-50 trucks.
The vegetable dealers of Saheb Bazar in Rajshahi said the supply as well as the price of vegetables both decreased in the market.
Mosharraf Hossain, the leaseholder of the Mahasthan Haat of Bogura, said vegetables go to different parts of the country including Dhaka, Chattogram and Khulna from this haat.
For the last three weeks, no buyer came from other districts to buy vegetables due to the Covid-19 shutdown.
"Due to the one-way transportation, truck drivers are also not interested in transporting vegetables to other areas of the country, including Dhaka and Chattogram," Mosharraf Hossain.
"The hotels on the highways are not open. How will drivers drive vehicles if they cannot have meals on the road?'' Abdul Mannan Akan, president of the Bogra Truck Owners Association, asked.
Bagura's Shahjahanpur Upazila chairman Shahrahan Hossain Chhanu bought one truck of vegetables from Mahasthan Haat on Wednesday and distributed those as relief items among the people of his area.
Shibganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Alamgir Kabir appreciated the initiative taken by the Shahjahanpur upazila chairman.
"We have plans to buy vegetables and distribute those among the people as relief," he said.