Tumble in sales of essentials
- Vegetable sales at Reyazuddin Bazar fall 70%
- Price also declines in due to a lack of customers
- Daily egg supply comes down from 10 lakh to 2 lakh pieces
- Fish supply to Chattogram deports drops
- Daily fish supply from Muhuri project declines from 150 to 100 trucks
- Fish food price jumps by Tk5,000-10,000 per tonne
The supply of vegetables and other essential products to Reyazuddin Bazar wholesale market in Chattogram has dropped drastically since the beginning of the seven-day lockdown on April 14.
The prices of the products have also come down amid a lack of buyers.
The picture is the same for all other wholesale markets of daily commodities in Chattogram.
Owing to an increase in transport fares, various products, such as vegetables and fish, are not coming from different places, including the northern part of the country.
SM Yaqub, general secretary of Reyazuddin Bazar Banik Kalyan Samiti, said the supply of vegetables and other products in the market has declined by 70%.
He said many have left the city due to the lockdown and those who are there are not getting out of their homes. As a result, the demand for the products has decreased considerably.
Moreover, truck drivers are not willing to bring goods to Chattogram as they get no fares on their return trips. As a result, transportation fare has increased unusually.
Abdul Matin, an egg storekeeper at Reyazuddin Bazar, said that about 10 lakh pieces of eggs come to this market from different parts of the country, such as Tangail, Sarishabari and Tarakandi every day. This amount has come down to 2 lakh since the coronavirus lockdown began. Due to poor demand from buyers, the wholesale price has dropped by Tk10 per dozen.
Farmers are in trouble at not being able to supply vegetables. They have to sell their vegetables locally at low prices as wholesalers cannot come due to the transport crisis.
Sobhan Mintu, a vegetable grower from Mirsarai, said 100 pieces of cabbage are being sold at a wholesale price of Tk700-1,000.
The vegetables are left to rot in the fields as their transporting cost from Mirsarai to the wholesale markets of Sitakunda's Shuklalhat or Baradarogarhat is higher than the selling price.
"Besides, I am not getting the desired price of yardlong beans. We are facing financial losses with vegetables in the lockdown," he added.
Meanwhile, the supply of fish has also declined in different depots of Chattogram. Fish has not been coming in from outside Chattogram to the fishery ghats and Pahartali fish market in the city. Since the lockdown went underway, fish supplies have only been coming from a few nearby upazilas, namely, Mirsarai, Sitakunda, Patia. These fish were taken to different markets of the port city by retailers. Now the number of retailers has also decreased.
Farhad Ahmed Shiblu, finance secretary of Pahartali Railway Bazar Fish Storekeeper Cooperative Society, said, "Fish worth around Tk20 lakh was sold in my depot every morning and afternoon. Now afternoon trading is closed. Morning sales have also dropped by about 60%. The situation is similar in 32 warehouses of Pahartali market."
Meanwhile, 50 to 60 tonnes of marine and freshwater fish are supplied to different parts of the country from the fishery ghat of Chattogram, a big market for fish, every day. This supply has now dropped by more than half due to the lockdown.
Of the freshwater fish in the Chattogram district, 70% is supplied from the Muhuri fish project area in Mirsarai. There are about 2,000 small and big fish farmers in the Muhuri project. Usually, every day about 150 truckloads of fish are supplied to different districts, including Chattogram, from here. But the number has come down to less than 100 due to a decline both in prices and demand for fish in the pandemic.
On the other hand, due to the abnormal increase in the price of fish food, farmers are suffering at both ends.
Kamrul Hossain, a fish farmer of the Muhuri project, said that before the lockdown, rui fish was sold at an average of around Tk10,000 per maund. At present, it is being sold at Tk8,000. The price of other fish has also come down by about Tk1,000 per maund. Many fish farmers buy food by selling fish from the project. In this situation, farmers are being forced to sell fish at low prices.
Meanwhile, the export of vegetables by air is suspended due to the lockdown. Mizanur Rahman, an official of SR Enterprise, a vegetable exporter through Chattogram Airport, said that in this season, the yardlong bean from Sitakunda and Manikchhari in Khagrachhari and spiny gourd from Banshkhali were exported abroad. But vegetable exports have also been suspended due to the closure of international flights.