POST TIME: 13 April, 2019 12:24:18 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 April, 2019 12:24:42 AM
Hilsa dearer ahead of Pahela Baishakh
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

Hilsa dearer ahead of Pahela Baishakh

The price of hilsa has skyrocketed ahead of Pohela Baishakh,

the Bengali New Year, when consumption of the fish usually shoots up.

Pohela Baishakh is observed every year to welcome the Bengali New Year with the tradition of taking water-soaked rice and hilsa. This year it will be celebrated on Sunday.

Buyers alleged that to make some extra profit every year, traders store hilsa on the occasion of Pohela Baishakh and hike the price. As a result, an artificial shortage of hilsa is created in the market, and the price also increases ahead of Pohela Baishakh. Compared to the last two years, the price of hilsa has gone up almost twice.   

In the capital’s kitchen market, including Karwan Bazar, traders said the demand for hilsa has increased just before the occasion, but supply of the fish is inadequate, which pushed up the price. Hence, with increasing demand, vendors have been forced to raise the price of hilsa.

On Friday, hilsa was selling at Tk 1,500-1,800 per piece (weighing 700-800 gram) against last year's Tk 800-900 per piece of the same size. A 500 to 600 gram hilsa is being sold at Tk 800-1,000, which was Tk 400 to 600 last year.   

A piece of hilsa weighing one kg is being sold at Tk 2,500-2,800 per kg at Kawran Bazar and the Malibag kitchen market, while it was below Tk 2,000 one week ago.   

“The current ban on hilsa fishing in the Meghna river and adverse weather for two months - March and April - are responsible for the exorbitant price,” Sumon Ahmed, a trader of the Kawran Bazar kitchen market, said yesterday.

According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data, hilsa was selling at Tk 600 to Tk 1,600 per kg on Thursday. It was Tk 500 to Tk 1,200 a week ago.

A consumer, Kaiser Hossain, bought an 800-gram hilsa for Tk 1,800 from the Kawran Bazar market.

He told The Independent: “I came to buy two fish for my wife and children. But I could buy only one because of the high price. Traders are deceiving buyers taking advantage of the Pohela Baishakh demand. The government is not bothered about it.”  

However, the price of other fish remained high over the week. Rohu was being sold for Tk 350–600 per kg, tilapia Tk 150–180, pangas Tk 170–200, pabda Tk 600–700, wallago attu Tk 600–800 and catfish Tk 500–600.

Besides, vegetable prices have remained high over the last couple of weeks due to lack of adequate supply against a rising demand.  Chicken prices also have shown an upward trend.

A visit to several kitchen markets in the capital, including Karwan Bazar, yesterday, revealed vegetable prices remained high throughout the last couple of weeks. Most of the vegetables were being sold for Tk 50–80 a kg.

New summer vegetables like pointed gourds, okra, bitter gourds and colocasia stems were being sold for Tk 70–90 a kg yesterday.

 Winter vegetables have almost disappeared from the market. Only tomato was available for Tk 35–50 a kg, up from Tk 25–40 a week ago.

Bitter gourd was being sold for Tk 70–85 a kg, sponge gourds Tk 60–80, and pointed gourds and snake gourds Tk 70–90. Eggplants were selling for Tk 40–50 a kg, bottle gourds Tk 40–50 apiece, ladies finger Tk 55–65 a kg, papaya Tk 20–30 and cucumber Tk 30–40.

 Most of the vegetables and leafy greens showed a further hike in prices during the period.

Sweet pumpkins were Tk 40–50 per piece, while cauliflowers and cabbages were selling for Tk 40–50 and Tk 35–45 apiece, respectively.

Green chillies were being sold for Tk 60–70 a kg. Newly harvested potatoes were selling at Tk 20–30 a kg.

“Vegetable prices are high due to lack of adequate supply. The rain has damaged crops and inflicted heavy financial losses on vegetable growers,” Belal Hossain, a vendor at the Kawran Bazar kitchen market, told The Independent.

But consumers blamed the government’s lax monitoring system, which has failed to keep prices under control.

 Besides, the price of beef has gone up by Tk 30 per kg and that of mutton by Tk 50, against the prices last week. Beef was being sold for Tk 520–550, up from Tk 500–520 a week back. The price of mutton was Tk 800–850 a kg, which was Tk 750-800 last week.

 Traders said the demand for beef and mutton has increased, but their supply has remained the same. This has triggered the price hike.

Layer chicken (small size) was being sold for Tk 210–220 per piece, broiler chicken Tk 160–165 per kg and Pakistani chicken Tk 260–350 per piece. The price of local chicken also went up to Tk 400–450.

 A chicken trader, Rakibul Haque, said the price of chicken increases during this period every year. But this year the price has risen significantly because of inadequate supply.

 Duck eggs were being sold for Tk 155–160 a dozen, while local chicken eggs were retailing at Tk 165–170 in the kitchen markets. These items had been sold for Tk 130–135 a dozen and Tk 135–140 a dozen, respectively, earlier this year.

 Local varieties of onion were sold at Tk 25–35 a kg in retail markets yesterday, and the imported variety Tk 25–30.

 Garlic was being sold at Tk 90–100 a kg. Local ginger was selling for Tk 100–110 a kg, and the imported Chinese variety Tk 75–90.

 Prices of different varieties of rice remained unchanged over the week.