The price of a variety of pulses or dal has increased by Tk250-Tk450 per maund in the Khatunganj wholesale market of Chattogram in the last two weeks.
Although demand is stable, the price of pulses is rising due to an increase in booking prices in the international market, and the market price fixing manipulation of importers.
In Khatunganj, the country's largest wholesale market for consumer goods, per maund (36.32kg) of Canadian red lentil (Masur) sold for Tk2,500 to Tk2,550 on Thursday, which was Tk2,100 to Tk2,150 two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, a maund of Australian red lentil was Tk2,300 to Tk2,350 wholesale, which is currently Tk2,650 to Tk2,700.
As such, the price of per maund of red lentil has gone up Tk400-Tk450 in the last two weeks.
During the same time frame, the price of per maund chickpea has increased Tk250. At present, the price of chickpea is Tk2,300 to Tk2,450 per maund, which was Tk2,000 to Tk2,250 two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, wholesale white pea was Tk1,200 per maund, which is now Tk1,400, increasing Tk200 in two weeks.
Khatunganj wholesale pulse traders complain there is ample supply of every variety of pulses in the market but some importing companies engaging in price fixing have manipulated and increased the prices of these products.
However, Ashutosh Mahajan, proprietor of Payel Traders, an importer of pulses, says the demand for chickpea is higher than supply. "Besides, futures booking prices for white peas and red lentil have gone up in the international market, resulting in the higher price of pulses in the domestic market," he claimed.
Azizul Haque, another wholesale trader and proprietor of Haque Trading, said the booking price of only red lentilhas gone up in the international market over the past one week, but prices of other pulses remained stable. Besides, the red lentil being sold in the market now was imported at least one to two months ago. The red lentil that will be imported at higher booking prices will reach the market at least one month later. At present, there is no supply crisis in the market. Importers have syndicated and increased the prices without any valid reason.
SM Mohiuddin, general secretary of Chattogram Pulse Traders Association, said demand, supply and the import of pulses in the market are all stable. The whole market is hostage to a few importers increasing the price of a product as they please. When the supply of goods in the market exceeds demand, the price should fall, as is normal.
The business leader feels there is need for market monitoring by the authorities concerned, to prevent price gouging and to ensure a fair and legitimate price for daily essentials in the market.