Due to the floods in the northern part of the country, including Sylhet, the prices of daily necessities like rice, puffed rice, flattened rice, onions and vegetables have shot up in the capital city Dhaka.
In a span of just one week, the price of coarse rice has increased by 10% per kg, leaving low-income people in dire straits.
In the Karwan Bazar, Hatirpool, Paltan, Magbazar, Modhubag markets of the capital, the prices of almost all kinds of vegetables were found to have shot up by Tk10 per kg compared to last week.
Nasir Khan, a vegetable seller at Karwan Bazar, told TBS that the price of vegetables has increased as supply of vegetables from different districts has declined drastically due to the floods.
"The supply of vegetables and fish has shrunk a bit as floods in Sylhet, Mymensingh and Rangpur divisions have inundated these regions. Land given over to vegetable cultivation has gone under water," he also said.
Cucumber prices have shot up from Tk60 to Tk80 per kg, carrots from Tk60 to Tk90 and tomatoes from Tk120 to Tk160 per kg. Eggplants are being sold at Tk60, which was Tk50 a week ago. Snake gourds, bitter gourds, spiny gourds, and pointed gourds are selling at Tk40, up from Tk30. Pumpkin pieces are sold at Tk60 in contrast to the earlier Tk50 and wax gourd prices rose to Tk40 from Tk30.
Kamal Uddin, an employee at a private firm who came to Hatirpool market, expressed his displeasure over the price hike. He said, "The prices of all daily necessities are rising by leaps and bounds. My salary has not increased by even a single taka. How will I run the family in future?"
Meanwhile, onion prices have also increased by Tk10 per kg in the retail market. It is now being sold for Tk50.
Prices of puffed, flattened rice, molasses also on rise
The prices of puffed rice, flattened rice, and molasses are on the rise as many individuals, social organisations and political parties are buying up these dried foods for distribution among flood victims.
To cash in on the high demand for dry food, profit-mongering traders have increased the prices of these items.
On a visit to the market, The Business Standard found that the price of a 50 kg sack of flattened rice has increased to Tk2,700 from Tk2,400 in one week. A sack of puffed rice now costs Tk3,200 where earlier it was Tk2,900. Flattened rice is selling at Tk70 per kg in the wholesale market and Tk80 per kg in the retail market.
Loose puffed rice, which earlier was sold at Tk60 per kg, now costs Tk70. The price of flattened rice has shot up by Tk10-12 per kg in a week. The price of sugarcane molasses was Tk110 to 120 per kg a week ago. In the retail market, it is now sold at Tk160.
Hasan Dulal, a trader in puffed and flattened rice at Karwan Bazar, said, "The supply of dry food here is low against the high demand due to the floods. To cash in on the crisis, the mill owners have increased the prices of puffed rice, flattened rice and molasses."
Meanwhile, traders have blamed inflation and the floods for the poor sale of spices with only 15 days left until Eid-ul-Azha, the second largest congregation of the Muslim community.
Yeasin Alam, a spice trader at Karwan Bazar, said, "I sold spices worth Tk3-4 lakh a day at this time last year. This year, not even 50 % of that is being sold a day. There are few buyers on Friday, even on holidays as people don't have money."
Golam Rahman, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said the government needs to further improve the supply chain to keep prices of essential commodities stable. If prices rise in the international market, the government should control the local market with tax adjustment or imports.