"We’re selling a kg of onion at Tk40-50, potato at Tk20, aubergine at Tk30-40, tomato at Tk30, a piece calabash at Tk40"
The prices of daily essentials fell significantly in Dhaka's kitchen markets as hundreds of thousands of people left the capital during the government announced holiday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
At the kitchen markets, vegetable traders and shopkeepers are passing idle times.
"There are not many customers now," said Shariful Islam, a shopkeeper at Bangshal. "We're selling a kg of onion at Tk40-50, potato at Tk20, aubergine at Tk30-40, tomato at Tk30, a piece calabash at Tk40."
Nahid Hasan, a vegetable vendor at Shantinagar, said he bought some vegetable from wholesale market but has failed to sell them. "I sell a kg of radish at Tk20, cucumber at Tk25, aubergine at Tk30. The prices were doubled only a few days ago," he said, noting that the business took a nosedive as people left Dhaka and restaurants were closed.
Sobhan Talukder, a vegetable wholesaler at Kawranbazar, told UNB the sales were less than satisfactory for the last several days.
"A large number of Dhaka residents left the capital during the general holidays and educational institutions have also been closed. Vegetable business is not doing well," he added.
He said Sunday's sells were better compared to previous days as hotels have been opened. "There's no problem in supply chain and other issues will be resolved soon. But the main problem is the lack of customers in Dhaka," he added.
Sobhan said many wholesalers did not open their shops following panic of coronavirus. Many of them choose not to buy large amounts of vegetable from districts wholesalers fearing loss.
Super shops also reported declining sales. Rasel Hossain, a section in-charge of Meena Bazar at Moghbazar, said their sale came down one-fourth in the last several days.
"Our sale increased several times during the panic buying but declined after the general holiday was announced," he added.
Panic buying pushed up prices of various goods in Dhaka's markets as people feared a lockdown would be imposed.
According to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data on Sunday, each kg local onion was sold at Tk40-45 from Tk50-60 while imported ones cost Tk35-45 from Tk40-60 compared to a week.
Potato prices fell by Tk 2 and four pieces of eggs cost about Tk 5 less.
Meanwhile, TCB data also showed each kg fine rice price increased to Tk60-68 from Tk55-65 while coarse rice price rose to Tk40-50 from Tk38-50 compared a week ago.
Stockists and wholesalers said the informal lockdown affected supply chain of the essentials goods.
Khademul Islam, a stockist of Rajshahi, told UNB they could not send vegetable to Dhaka for the lack of labourers.
"Labourers are reluctant to work amid coronavirus scare. So we couldn't send products to Dhaka. Even we don't get proper prices of our products in Dhaka's wholesale market," he added.
Khademul said low prices are discouraging farmers from harvesting vegetables.
Taj Uddin Bepari and Mizanur Raham, stockists of Jashore, said their vegetable business nosedived following the coronavirus panic.
"We used to send 25-30 trucks of vegetables to Dhaka daily only a week ago but now we send 2-5 trucks. The demand came down due to lack of customers," Taj said.
He said pointed gourd (potol) and aubergine prices fell by 50 percent to Tk20 and Tk8-10 respectively compared to a week ago. A van loaded papaya now cost Tk 2,000-2,200 down from Tk35,00-4000 while a cluster of banana is now sold at Tk 150, which cost Tk300 several days ago.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Agro-Processors' Association (Bapa) Md Iqtadul Hoque said the country exports huge amount of fresh vegetable and fruits. But that has been affected by coronavirus outbreak.
He said several days ago, they received complaints from different districts that police were obstructing during loading and unloading of the products.
"The problem was resolved after media reports," he said.