Consumers suffer as vegetable prices soar in Kurigram markets

Vegetable prices have gone up at the kitchen markets of flood-hit Kurigram district, taking it out of the reach of poor people.


Traders said the prices of vegetables have gone up due to inadequate supply as vegetables and other crops were damaged by the recent floods.


This year, crops on 17,000 hectares of land, including vegetables on 953 hectares, have been damaged by the floods in the district.


Poor people like day-labourers are bearing the brunt of the soaring prices as many people have lost their jobs and sources of income due to the coronavirus pandemic.


During a recent visit to different kitchen markets, the UNB correspondent found green chilies selling at Tk 200 per kg, while onion at Tk 40-45, eggplant at Tk 60, potato at Tk 35-40, bitter gourd at Tk 120-100, radish and red spinach at Tk 30-40, water spinach (Kalmi shak) at Tk 30.


Besides, pumpkin is selling at Tk 80-100 per piece, gourd at Tk 50-60 per piece and four pieces of green bananas at Tk 40.


Rice price has also gone up by Tk 3 to Tk 5 per kg depending on varieties.


Delwar Hossain, an auto-rickshaw driver, who went to Khalilganj kitchen market, said, “I earned Tk 195 by driving an auto-rickshaw half-day. Traders are selling one kg eggplant at Tk 70…they want Tk 100 per kg bitter gourd, Tk 320 for per kg chili. Can I afford that?”


Baharul Alam, a businessman, said, “All kinds of vegetables are not available in the market now while those that are there are sold at three to four times higher prices than the regular ones. Now, I’ve to buy 250 grams instead of one kg.”


Haider Ali, another shopper, said, “Retailers are demanding prices as per their wish for lack of monitoring…they’re taking Tk 10-15 more from the wholesale prices for per kg vegetable.”


Nader Ali, a vegetable trader at Zia Bazar, said, “We’ve to bring vegetables from outside the district at higher prices as most croplands have been damaged by the floods. That’s why the vegetable prices are so high.”


Fakir Ali, a vegetable grower in Kathalbari, said, “I’ve brought one bigha of land under gourd and bitter gourd cultivation. Although it was not submerged by floodwater, rain has damaged my plants. Now, I’m a little bit worried about getting back the money I spent. I’m selling gourd at Tk 40 per piece.”


Advocate Ahsan Habib Nilu, president of Kurigram Press Club, said Chinai in Razarhat upazila, Kathalbari in Sadar upazila, Char-Sitaijhar in Moglabasa union of Sadar upazila are famous for vegetable cultivation.


But this year, the vegetables of those areas and other parts of the district have been damaged due to excessive rain and floods, hitting the kitchen markets hard.”


He also urged the authorities concerned to monitor the kitchen markets as vegetables from Rangpur, Bogura and Chapainawabganj districts flooded the markets.


Contacted, Mostafizur Rahman, an assistant director at the Directorate of National Consumer Rights and Protection, Kurigram, said, “We’re monitoring the kitchen markets after getting complaints. We’ll sit with traders, customers and market committees for keeping the prices stable.”


Source: United News of Bangladesh