Three front organisations of the ruling Awami League – Jubo League, Swechchhasebak League and Chhatra League – on Tuesday began selling vegetables in the capital at "fair prices", sourcing them directly from farmers following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's directives.
The opening ceremony of the vegetable sales programme, presided over by Bangladesh Awami Jubo League Chairman Sheikh Fazle Shams Parash, was held in Mirpur.
Jubo League General Secretary Md Mainul Hossain Khan Nikhil, Swechchhasebak League President Gazi Mejbaul Hossain Sacchu, General Secretary Afzalur Rahman Babu, Bangladesh Chhatra League President Saddam Hossain and General Secretary Sheikh Wali Asif Inan were also present on the occasion.
As part of the programme, vegetable prices were set at Tk27 for a cauliflower, Tk35 for a cabbage, Tk27 for a gourd, Tk8 for a bundle of spinach, Tk34 per kilogram of beans, Tk77 for green chillies, Tk20 for a papaya, and Tk30 for eggplants.
The vegetables were sold from six mini trucks on the first day - two used by the Chhatra League, two by the Swechchasebak League and two by the Jubo League.
The vegetables, procured from farmers in Savar, were retailed at fair prices, covering only the expenses incurred in purchase and transportation, according to the organisers.
On the opening day of the programme, a large part of the buyers were the leaders and activists of Awami League-affiliated organisations. The general public of the neighbourhood also bought the vegetables from the trucks.
Abu Jaber, a buyer from Paikpara, Mirpur, told The Business Standard, "We are happy that the price of vegetables here is much lower than the market price. But I see many initiatives which are not found after one or two days. If we can regularly buy vegetables at such low prices then we will all benefit."
Another customer, Sahera Begum, echoed the sentiment, saying, "I bought a gourd for Tk27, a kilogram of beans for Tk34, and a kilogram of brinjal for Tk30. These vegetables cost almost twice as much in the market. But will we be able to buy vegetables at such a low price every day?"
While some have welcomed the initiative as a much-needed relief, many have raised doubts about its long-term viability.
A resident of Paikpara, on condition of anonymity, told TBS that the government increases the price of market goods and organises demonstrations to justify the issue.
"If the leaders and activists of the Jubo League, Swechha Sebok League and Chhatra League were monitoring whether fair prices are kept in the markets of their respective areas, then the prices could not rise that much," he said.
The top leadership of the three Awami League front organisations said they have instructed the leaders and activists of their organisations across the country to buy vegetables directly from farmers and sell them at fair prices.
Speaking at the event, Awami Jubo League General Secretary Md Mainul Hossain Khan Nikhil said the purpose of business is to make profits, but not by oppressing people.
"The prime minister has realised the matter and directed our three trusted organisations in this regard. We will sell goods at the prices we bought them at," he added.
He said some businessmen affiliated with the BNP are creating an artificial crisis in the market.
"Businessmen are doing this by forming a syndicate to spoil the image of the government," Nikhil added.
Jubo League Chairman Sheikh Fazle Shams Parash said the programme will run on a regular basis. The prime minister has ordered that production should be increased. Unscrupulous traders should be brought under punishment.
Awami Sechcha Sebok League President Gazi Mejbaul Hossain Sacchu said, 'We will spread this initiative to every district, upazila, across the country.'
Bangladesh Chhatra League President Saddam Hossain, and General Secretary Sheikh Wali Asif Inan also spoke on the occasion.