Usually, middlemen eat into what farmers get as price for their produce by buying them before they can make it to market, thus depriving the growers of a fair price. But Chashi Bazar (farmers' market) in the Zajira upazila of Shariatpur has set a different example.
Here, the farmers do not have to depend on the middlemen to sell their products as they themselves can market their goods and get a fair price.
This is why the market, which started beside the Shariatpur-Dhaka highway in 2008 to ensure fair prices for farmers, is getting increasingly popular among wholesalers across the country.
At present, the daily average transaction at the market is Tk2.5-3 crore. Farmers sell their produce directly to vegetable wholesalers coming from different parts of the country, without any interference from middlemen.
As farmers get a fair price selling their products, the transactions have been growing and the area of the market, which started on 32 decimals of land, has expanded to two acres to accommodate more shops. There are at least 120 large and small shops at present.
At present, the market remains busy with the hustle and bustle of wholesalers from Dhaka, Chandpur, Barguna, Khulna, Madaripur, Rajbari, Faridpur, etc from 8am to 7pm every day. They buy vegetables, onion, garlic, ginger, nigella, coriander, etc at an affordable price compared to other nearby markets.
At present, the wholesale price of cauliflower is Tk25-30 per kg, bitter gourd Tk42, aubergine Tk28-30, cabbage Tk18-20, gourd Tk50-70, and onion Tk18-20.
Farmers and wholesalers said varieties of vegetables are available in this market at a comparatively lower price, which attracts traders from across the country.
Wholesaler Amjad Hossain from Barisal came to the market to buy vegetables. He said fresh vegetables are available in this market as well as road communication from Barisal is also good so many wholesalers come here.
Vegetable trader Imrul Hasan, who came from Dhaka, said there is less hassle in purchasing goods here.
"I buy products worth Tk5-6 lakh per trip. The market is on the side of the road so there is no problem with transportation. Moreover, there is no harassment of extortionists and pickpockets," he added.
However, he said banking facilities are quite important for traders, and the transaction would have been easier if there were any banking facility nearby.
Abdur Razzak, a farmer from Zajira's Kazirhat area, said he did not have to pay any toll to sell crops at the market and could sell products directly to wholesalers.
Prince Khan, president of Chashi Bazar Samabaya Samiti Limited, said the association started its journey with 125 farmers. At present, there are 260 members. Each of them pays a monthly fee of Tk25 which is deposited in a bank. This money will be used for income-generating purposes in future.
Besides, a market committee looks after the facilities of the farmer and the development of the market. During a sale, Tk3 is taken from a wholesaler of each product and used for cleaning the market, market development work and to meet various expenses.
Abdul Jalil Madbar, president of the market management committee, said "The market was run through a cooperative society. Land used in the market has been leased. Every year the landowners have to pay Tk5 lakh."
The association provides all kinds of assistance to the farmers to sell their produce, he added.
"We are always informed of the amount and price of products sold every day. On average, farmers sell products worth Tk2.5-3 crore every day."
Zajira upazila parishad Chairman Mubarak Ali Sikder said the market has made local farmers economically self-sufficient. Initiatives will be taken to modernise the market by increasing the existing facilities.