- DAE arranged BRTC trucks, trains, and postal services for transporting agri products
- It also tried to create an inter-district marketing system
- Consumer goods producers and marketers like City Group and Meghna Group now find the supply chain ok
- But because of floods, supply of vegetables is still low
Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the supply chain of agricultural and other daily products has largely recovered from the initial damage caused by the shutdown measures taken by the government.
The supply of imported foods and some imported daily products, however, is yet to become normal, according to people concerned.
They said the sector has recovered from the crisis but there has been a shortage of some products, including vegetables, because of the flood.
Mostafa Kamal, a vegetable wholesaler of Karwan Bazar, told The Business Standard, "The crisis of transportation is over. But the flood has reduced the production of vegetables. As a result, the supply is lower than the demand and the prices have also increased."
The Department of Agricultural Marketing took some initiatives to repair the supply chain of agricultural products amid the pandemic.
The department initiated steps like using BRTC trucks, trains, and postal services for transporting agricultural products. It also tried to create an inter-district marketing system for such products.
Mohammad Yusuf, director-general of the Department of Agricultural Marketing, told The Business Standard, "The special steps that were taken to maintain the supply chain are not useful right now because the transportation system has normalised."
"But the supply of agricultural products has decreased compared to the demand. The main reason is floods," he added.
According to the director-general of the agricultural marketing department, farmers are getting a good price now for most of their products.
The supply chain of agricultural products was broken at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
According to producers, marketers, sellers and transporters of agricultural products, at the end of March, when the government declared nationwide holidays over the pandemic, a deadlock came over the transportation system of agricultural products.
They said farmers faced huge losses at that time as they could not sell their products including fish, meat, milk, vegetables, eggs etc, as transportation was strictly restricted.
Many farmers sold their products at a nominal price and many were forced to dump their perishable products.
Kamrul Islam grows broiler chickens in Jamalpur's Sharishabari area. He gets 200-250 eggs per day from his farm.
He said, "During the time of coronavirus there was no one to take the eggs to the city. I had to sell the eggs in the local market at a low price. But the situation has changed. Now I am getting a good price."
But the market for milk is yet to be normalised as there has been a reduction in the number of customers amid the pandemic.
According to milk processing and marketing companies, the number of customers is still 38-40 percent less than at normal times. But there is no shortage of milk in the supply side.
Khokon Biswas, a farmer from Pabna, told The Business Standard, "The demand in the local market has decreased. Sweetmeat shops and processor companies have almost halved their orders for milk. As a result, we are getting a price lower than the production cost."
According to the farmers of Pabna, the production cost of milk has increased due to the rise in the price of cattle feed. The production cost per litre of milk is more than Tk42, but the processor companies are paying only Tk36-38 per litre. The price in the local market is around Tk30.
Md Mosleh Uddin, chief operating officer of Akij Food and Beverage Ltd, said, "People have not included milk in their daily food list. That is why the number of customers is still 30-40 percent less than before the pandemic. As a result, we are not being able to process milk on a large scale."
Several grocers and super shop officials said people are not buying extra products outside of their everyday need as their income has decreased due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the sales of daily food products like rice, lentils, fish, meat and eggs are good. And there is no problem concerning their supply chain.
But there is a shortage of imported products including chips, chocolate, butter, cosmetics (soap, shampoo, perfume etc.) in the market.
Shahin Khan, chief executive officer of Meena Bazar, said, "We regularly sell 300-350 products. Among those, there are no problems concerning local products. But there is no supply of some imported products."
Meanwhile, consumer goods producers and marketers like City Group, Meghna Group suffered at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. There was a shortage of packaging for their products because many backward linkage factories which produce labels or packages of products were closed because of labourer shortage.
They also faced problems in releasing imported products from ships due to a lack of labourers in the months when the Covid-19 first hit the country.
Asif Iqbal, managing director of Meghna Group, told The Business Standard, "The crisis that we faced to maintain the supply of products in the time of the pandemic is now over."