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City spice market heats up

August 11, 2019 00:00:00

The demand for spices, mainly used in meat dishes, usually soars during religious festivals like Eid-ul-Azha when Muslims across the country sacrifice millions of animals. And there is no exception this time.

The prices are high even though officials at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) say the supply is adequate. Traders blame wholesalers for the price hike but consumers say lack of monitoring by the agencies concerned is the root of the problem, reports UNB.

Various spices, including cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf rose by 5.0 to 35 per cent compared to the previous month, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data.

Cinnamon, for example, cost about Tk 160 more on Friday compared to last month's. Cardamom was more expensive and saw a price hike of about Tk 1,100 at some markets in Dhaka.

Chandi Das Kundu, Director of Horticulture Wing of DAE, said some spices produced in Bangladesh are insufficient to meet the demand and the country has to import most of the spices that are not grown locally.

DAE officials said 4.46 million metric tonnes of spices were produced in the 2018-19 fiscal year while 1.31 mts were imported.

Md Azhar Ali, director of DAE, insisted that there was no dearth in supply. "There's adequate supply of spices as we've imported a huge quantity to meet this year's demand," he told UNB.

President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Ghulam Rahman said the trend of price hike during Eid is a trick used by businesspeople to line their pockets. But some traders disagreed.

"The retailers sold the spices at high rates. So, we've to increase the prices," said Abdul Halim, a trader at Karwanbazar market. He said the prices of all spices were hiked during Eid-ul-Fitr and did not go down since.

Spices were sold at high prices at various markets in Bangshal, Nayabazar, Gulistan and Shantinagar.

Halima Khatun, a resident of Bangshal, said the increase in spice prices was nothing new before Eid but this time the situation was a little extreme. "I bought cardamom at Tk 3,500 per kg!" she said.

"Traders increase the prices ahead of Eid in the absence of proper monitoring. What can we do as consumers? We've no choice but to buy them at high prices," she said.

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