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Essential commodity prices remain high

Fixed income people struggle to make ends meet amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:12, Oct 02,2020

 
 

A vendor arranges vegetables at a kitchen market at Kaptan Bazar in the capital on Friday. — New Age photo

The prices of commodities remained high on the city’s kitchen markets over the week, pushing fixed income groups into further hardship amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Consumers expressed their anger over the continuous price hike of essential commodities on the city markets as the virus outbreak has eroded their incomes or cost them their jobs.

Vegetables became dearer on the city markets over the week.

Aubergine sold for Tk 70-80 a kg, papaya for Tk 40-45 a kg, bitter gourd for Tk 78-90 a kg, okra for Tk 60 a kg, bottle gourd for Tk 60-80 apiece, Chinese okra for Tk 60 a kg, string beans for Tk 80 a kg, cucumber for Tk 40 a kg and tomato for Tk 120-140 a kg on Friday.

The price of green chilli increased by Tk 40-50 a kilogram and the item sold for Tk 200-220 a kg on Friday.

The prices of onion and ginger remained high over the week.

The local variety of oinion sold for Tk 90-100 a kg while the imported variety sold for Tk 80-90 a kg on Friday.

The imported variety of ginger sold for Tk 220-250 a kg and the local variety retailed at Tk 160-200 a kg on Friday.

The price of garlic remained unchanged over the week. The imported variety retailed at Tk 90-100 a kg while the local variety sold for Tk 100-120 a kg in the capital on the day.

Middle-income and lower-income groups were both struggling to make ends meet with their household incomes reduced or family members losing jobs during the coronavirus outbreak.

Many middle-income families living in the cities have had their household incomes visibly reduced amid pay cuts and job cuts during the period.

Coupled with a price hike of essential items on the city markets, these families were cutting down on food and other consumptions to ride out the outbreak.

Ishrat Hossain, who works as a teacher at a school in the capital, said that her family had halved their food consumption in recent weeks as her husband’s and her incomes were fixed but the prices of most essential items had soared on the city’s markets.

The prices of rice still remained high on the city markets despite the government setting the mill gate rate of the staple food on September 29.

The standard variety of BR-28 rice sold for Tk 50-52 a kg while the fine variety sold for Tk 54-55 a kg in the capital on Friday.

The standard variety of Miniket rice sold for Tk 56-58 a kg and the fine variety sold for Tk 60-65 a kg.

The fine variety of Najirshail rice retailed at Tk 60-65 a kg and the coarse variety sold for Tk 44-48 a kg on Friday.

A World Bank report titled ‘Losing Livelihoods: The Labour Market Impacts of COVID-19 in Bangladesh’ published in September said that to cope with the income losses, 69 per cent households reduced their food consumption while the same number of people took help from their friends.

Another survey conducted in April by Power and Participation Research Centre and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development found some 40 per cent of poor population and 35 per cent vulnerable non-poor have already reduced their food consumption to cope with the outbreak and its impacts.

A follow-up on the survey conducted in June found that 30 per cent households in the moth reduced food consumption to cope with the decline in income, very little change from April.

Unpackaged soya bean oil sold for Tk 90-95 a litre while palm oil sold for Tk 85-86 a litre on Friday.

One litre of bottled soya bean oil sold for Tk 108-110 while five litres of packaged soya bean oil sold for Tk 490-540 on the day.

Broiler chicken sold for Tk 115-120 a kg in the capital on Friday. Locally bred hens sold for Tk 450-500 a kg.

Beef sold for Tk 550-580 a kg while mutton sold for Tk 800-900 a kg in the capital on Friday.

The price of eggs remained high as well with each hali or four pieces selling for Tk 36-38 on Friday.

The situation is far more severe for lower-income groups who have either lost all means of livelihood during the outbreak or seen their incomes reduced drastically since March.

Faced with increased costs and reduced incomes, lower-income groups have been compelled to make severe cuts in their daily food consumption which has been further aggravated by the price hike of essential items, especially that of rice. 

‘My income has halved in the last five months as flat owners do not allow me to enter their houses due to the pandemic but the prices of daily essentials continue to rise during the period,’ Khadija Akter, a domestic worker, told New Age on Friday.

She said that she was the only bread earner in a household of three members who living in much hardship due to the rise in commodity prices.    

The prices of fish remained unchanged over the week.

Rohita sold for Tk 260-350 a kg and Katla for Tk 250-350 a kg, depending on size and quality.

Pangas sold for Tk 130-180 a kg and Tilapia sold for Tk 120-160 a kg.

The price of potato remained high and the item sold for Tk 40 a kg in the city.

The price of red lentil remained high and the fine variety sold for Tk 125 a kg on Friday. The medium-quality variety sold for Tk 90-95 a kg while the coarse variety sold for Tk 65-70 a kg.

Fine-quality packaged salt retailed at Tk 35 a kg while the refined variety retailed at Tk 25 a kg.

Refined sugar retailed at Tk 60-65 a kg while the locally produced variety retailed at Tk 70 a kg.

Mohammad Helal, a security guard working at an apartment at Mohammadpur in the city, said that traders were increasing the prices of daily essentials at will due to lack of government monitoring.

The government should think about the difficulties of lower income groups during the pandemic, he said. 

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