A young farmer of the village Muradpur sat glumly with his cauliflowers at the Mahasthan market of Bogra.
Rony Islam, the young farmer, had cultivated cauliflower on over one acres of land this season, but the wholesalers are unwilling to pay his price.
"One buyer offered Tk 120 for the price of 1 maund and left half an hour ago. I am not sure if he will return," Rony said.
Jamshed Ali, another farmer from Badiachara village said, "It costs Tk 5,000 to purchase seeds for one acre of land. It costs Tk 2,000 for a tractor and Tk 12,000 for fertiliser, irrigation and weeding. I can grow around 60-70 maunds of cauliflower on one acre of land," Jamshed said.
That means, according to Jamshed’s calculations, each cauliflower should cost Tk 8.33, that too without charging for his labour. However, Jamshed cannot even sell the vegetable at Tk 3 each.
Jamshed said, "We don’t get more than Tk 12 for the cauliflower that is priced at Tk 50 in Dhaka."
Potato grower Chokimuddin of Syed Damgara village said locally grown red potatoes are priced at Tk 450-550 per maund, while white potatoes cost TK 400- 450.
Zahidul Islam of Arjunpur village said he sold red potatoes at a price of TK 700 per maund last Saturday, but the price decreased by Tk 150 overnight.
It costs Zahidul Tk 10,000 to cultivate potatoes on one acre of land.
Radish growers suffer the most.
"I could not sell a maund of radish even for Tk 40. It costs Tk 40 just to clean a maund of radish after digging them up from the ground, and then an additional Tk 25 to transport them," said Abdul Aziz of Dakhinbhag village.
Eggplants were being sold for Tk 300 and beans for Tk 300 per maund.
The farmers alleged that wholesalers create this situation through syndication. They come up with various reasons to explain the drop in market price.
Sometimes they say vegetables can't leave Bogra due to traffic. Other times they say the bank was closed for three days. Now they are saying market price of vegetables have bee affected by the garment industry closure.
"Businessmen have their own association as do transportation owners. Farmers are the only ones without any associations," said Chokimuddin.
"We didn’t get fair price for rice. Now were are being paid poorly for vegetables. If we have to give up farming, how can we survive?" he questioned.
Vegetables at Mahasthan market comes from nearby districts of Bogra, such as Joypurhaat, Gaibandha and Naogaon.
On a daily basis, 50 trucks transport these vegetables to Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong, Narsingdi and Kishoreganj.
There are 200 wholesalers in this market.
Shafiqul Islam, owner of a wholesale store and general secretary of an association of kitchen market traders, told Prothom Alo, "A section of middlemen are responsible for this.
Transport owners said it takes Tk 3 per kilogram of vegetables to be transported to Chittagong and Tk 2 for the same to be transported to Dhaka.
Every truck charges Tk 20,000 for carrying 15 tonnes of vegetables, they added.
"It won't cost more than Tk 4 per kilo for transporting vegetables to Tetulia from Teknaf," said Shafiqul.
Vegetables prices in Dhaka
Our staff correspondent informed that although the prices of goods have gone down in the capital, they are still nowhere near the original selling price in Bogra.
The price of vegetables sold in markets of Dhaka on Monday are listed below:
Cauliflower: Tk 20 - 30 each
New potato: Tk 25 per kg
Radish: Tk 20 - 25 per kg
Bean: Tk 30 - 35 per kg
Eggplant: Tk 40 - 45 per kg
Cauliflower: Tk 25-40 each
New potato: Tk 30 per kg
Radish: Tk 25 per kg
Beans: Tk 30-40 per kg
Eggplant: Tk 40-50 per kg
Mohammad Shahab Uddin buys vegetables from the trucks at Karwan Bazar and sells them in retail and wholesale markets. He told Prothom Alo that yesterday he bought cauliflowers at an increased price of Tk 7 each. Depending on size and quality, he was able to sell them at a price of Tk 4 to Tk 15.
Cauliflowers from the wholesalers are being sold at the retail market for Tk 30.
"A detailed and proper research is required to find out the root of the problem," KS Murshid, director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) told Prothom Alo.
*The article originally published in Prothom Alo print edition is rewritten in English by Tazrian Rahman.