Ramadan goods prices soar over 5% in a week
Dates, a traditional food item for Iftar, have soared in prices ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan. A carton of 5kg of Mariam variety was sold at Tk3,200 a week ago in Chattogram's Khatunganj – one of the largest wholesale commodity hubs in the country. But now the price has risen to Tk3,500.
And at the retail level, dates are selling for Tk800-900 per kg.
Not only dates, but the market for almost all types of consumer goods has become volatile in the run-up to Ramadan, throwing consumers into a state of despair.
During Ramadan, there is a rise in demand for lentils. Compared to Tk70 and Tk78, respectively, on Thursday last week, peas were selling for Tk75 wholesale and Tk85 retail on Wednesday.
In the span of a week, moong dal prices have climbed from Tk75 wholesale and Tk90 retail to Tk80 and Tk110, respectively. In the same way, lentils (coarse) have soared to Tk88 wholesale and Tk110 retail to Tk85 and Tk95, respectively.
Sanjay Dev, president of Khatunganj Dal (lentil) Mills Owners Association, told TBS, "The price of lentils has been increasing in Khatunganj for a week due to the appreciation of the dollar and an increase in import costs."
Saiful Islam, a retailer at Bahaddarhat, said, "Good quality lentils are less available in the market. A mixture of two or three types of lentils is being sold as 'good'. Skins are coming more often with lentils. They have to be sold after adding wastage and transportation costs, so the price is a little higher."
Aminul Islam works in a private firm for a monthly salary of Tk25,000 and lives with two children in a rented house in Chawkbazar.
"We have to pay Tk10,000 per month for house rent. The cost of schooling for two children is at least Tk5,000. Apart from this, the cost of travelling for myself and our children is at least Tk2000. I have to cover the cost of the whole month with the remaining Tk8,000. I do not understand how to survive with children in Ramadan," he said, frustrated.
After drives by the district administration in the retail market, now signboards contain the prices of Ramadan products. But in the port city's Bahaddarhat and Chawkbazar, no match was found between the list and the market price. Besides, traders did not cooperate with this reporter when he wanted to verify the wholesale purchase prices.
Md Sohail, a resident of Chandgaon, said, "Due to the increase in the prices of goods around Ramadan, daily expenses have almost doubled. If prices continue to rise this way, then it will be impossible for us to live in the city with the family during Ramadan."
Wholesale and retail sellers in the port city say that the price of dates has increased by 15-30% depending on varieties. Mabrum dates are sold at Tk720 wholesale but their retail price is Tk800 to Tk1000. Although the wholesale price of the Kalmi variety is Tk500, it is selling for Tk750 at retail.
Abdul Malek, a dates dealer in Khatunganj, said that the price of good quality dates from Mariam and Mabrum has increased by Tk150-200.
Meanwhile, the price of Indian onions has increased by Tk5-7 per kg due to the non-arrival of onions from India. The price of the local variety has also increased by Tk2-3 per kg.
Local business leader Md Idris said, "The government has stopped the import of Indian onions since last Wednesday, resulting in an increase in their prices in Khatunganj. There are not many onions of the local variety. Therefore, if Indian onions do not come, the price will increase further in Ramadan."
"Basically, the price of all types of goods has increased due to the appreciation of the dollar and the increase in freight costs," he explained what he said was the reason behind the price increase.
AHM Shafiquzzaman, director general of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, said, "Some products may be import-dependent, and prices may increase according to the appreciation of the dollar."
"But comparison with the dollar market apart, the prices of products are being increased in the run-up to Ramadan," he added.