Chicken, onion and other vegetables became pricier again last week increasing sufferings of the commoners further.
Onion witnessed upward trend in its price two weeks back and it continued to be costlier until Thursday, the last day of the week.
Local varieties of onion was sold at Tk 30-35 per kilogram at retail markets on the day and the imported one at Tk 26-30 - a 15-per cent increase in the last seven days and 40 per cent in a couple of weeks.
Insiders said, big traders were seen hurrying to hoard onion in the last two weeks ostensibly with the view to making a windfall profit in the holy month of Ramadan, beginning from the first week of May.
Belal Hossain, a grocer at Zafrabad in the capital, said local onion was selling at Tk 18-20 a kg and the imported one at Tk 16-18 at Shyambazar and Karwan Bazar wholesale markets few days back, and the price increased to Tk 26-30 now.
He mentioned that prices of most of the spices usually start to increase as the Ramadan nears.
He said prices of two other main cooking ingredients -garlic and ginger - have also shot up in March.
Md Atiar Rahman, a spice trader at Shyamabzar, said import cost has soared to US $200-220 in March from $145-165 in January-February period.
He said the sale of summer onion has begun in India at a higher rate than that of Kharip season.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh Secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan termed the rise of onion prices in such a high proportion illogical, noting that the local harvest is going on and the import cost is at a two-year low.
He further said that import cost of onion is below Tk 14 a kg now while farmers are selling it at Tk 12-15 a kg, counting losses.
Both the peasants and the consumers have been deprived of the good harvest and the low import costs, he viewed.
Market monitoring teams of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) should raise their vigilance immediately to prevent any further artificial price hike by the big traders by hoarding onion, he added.
According to the MoC, availability of onion was 2.8 million tonnes in the country last year against a demand of 2.2 million tonnes.
The country produced 1.9 million tonnes of onion and imported 0.9 million tonnes in 2018.
Chicken became 8.0-10 per cent pricier last week. Broiler traded at Tk 160-165 a kg and the layer at Tk 185-195.
Most of the vegetables and leafy showed a further hike in prices during the period. The day-to-day necessary items increased by Tk 5.0-10 per kg/bunch in a week.
Cauliflower almost disappeared from the market as few vendors sold the item at Tk 60 a piece.
Tomato prices also marked a substantial rise. Its prices increased to Tk 35-50 a kg from Tk 25-40 a week ago.
New summer crops like pointed gourd, okra, bitter gourd and clocasia stem (kochu loti) were sold at Tk 80-110 a kg on the day.
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