Commodity prices: Further rise worsens plight of low-income people

“We thought the price of basic necessities would go down after Ramadan and Eid. Now traders say it will keep going up. If everything gets more expensive, what will we eat?”

For all the latest news, follow the Daily Star’s Google News channel.

Amid the struggle to cope with record high edible oil prices, a further spike in the prices of other basic necessities has dealt a further blow to low-income people.

Lentils have seen their prices increase by 20 taka per kg over the past week, while eggs have also become more expensive.

The price of basic products like powdered milk, flour and spices also increased during the same period.

Retailers and wholesalers fear that the price of these import-dependent items could rise further due to the disruption of supply caused by the Russian-Ukrainian war.

The price of lentils (coarse grain), a good source of protein for the poor, rose to Tk 100 from Tk 80-85 a week ago. The price of lentils (a small cereal) has risen from Tk 120 to Tk 130 per kg in various kitchen markets in the capital.

Anwar Hossain, a staff member of Prantika Traders at the capital’s Karwan Bazaar, said: “About two months ago, we sold lentils [big grain] at 65 Tk per kg. Now we have to buy it from wholesalers for 95 Tk.”

He said the price of milk powder had jumped from Tk 70 to Tk 710 per kg. “We are told that the price will increase further because the import of the product has been interrupted,” he said.

Contacted, Shafi Mahmud, President of Bangladesh Dal Baboshayi Samity, said a shortage of lentils has driven prices up.

“Due to the war, the import of lentils has been interrupted. We are not getting enough goods,” he said, adding that lentils are imported from Australia and chickpeas from Russia.

The price of eggs, another good source of protein, has also increased by Tk 1 per piece with a dozen eggs now being sold for Tk 120 at various kitchen markets in the capital.

Moreover, chicken, beef and mutton prices show no sign of falling after the increases during Ramadan.

Monirul Islam, a consumer buying rice from a shop in Kawran Bazar yesterday, said: “We thought the price of basic necessities would go down after Eid. Now traders say it will continue to rise.

“If everything becomes more expensive, what will we eat?

“Only God knows what awaits people like us. We see no respite,” he said in frustration.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the overall food inflation rate rose from 5.60% in January to 6.34% in March.

The food inflation rate in rural areas was 6.71% and 5.49% in urban areas in March.

Humayun Ahmed, who works in a private company in the capital, buys basic goods every month from the same store in Jatrabari.

“My monthly budget was Tk 1,500. With this I could buy oil, flour, spices, handkerchiefs, noodles, tea leaves, sugar and powdered milk. Now the most of the money is spent on oil and milk.

“I reduced my consumption, but I have to spend another 200 Tk,” he said.

CNG auto-rickshaw driver Ahmed Ali, who took out a loan to support his family during the Covid period, is now struggling to repay his debt and make ends meet.

“I used to be able to get breakfast for Tk25, which has now almost doubled,” he said, adding that the cost of meals at the mess where he lives had also increased significantly.

The price of flour also jumped to Tk 48 per kg from Tk 40 in January this year. The increase in the price of eggs, flour and edible oil has had an impact on the price of baked goods in restaurants.

Sheikh Wazed Ali, owner of Lakkhya Flour Mill, said Ukraine and Russia are the biggest wheat exporters in the world. Now businessmen have to import wheat from other countries at higher costs.

“Import cost of per maund [37kg approximately] Canada wheat went from 950 Tk to 2,000 Tk. On the other hand, the price of Indian wheat is Tk 1,450 per maund. It was Tk 800 earlier. As a result, the price of flour skyrocketed,” he said.

Previous Anchoring an FTA with India: a better option for the Taiwanese semiconductor industry
Next The Prime Minister underlined his commitment to an independent and integrated economy in his speech at Harvard