Transportation problem due to countrywide political agitation like hartals and blockades for the last couple of months brings woe to the vegetable growers and traders of Ishwardi upazila, one of the largest vegetable producing zones in the country.
"In winter, around 1.5 lakh tonnes of vegetables are produced in Ishwardi upazila that meets at least one-fourth of the vegetable demand in the capital. But the continuous blockade and hartal badly hamper vegetable supply there," said Md Khurshid Alam, Ishwardi upazila agriculture officer.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension, 5,708 hectares of land in Ishwardi upazila have been brought under vegetable cultivation this season.
The area includes 1,405 hectares for bean cultivation, 1,125 hectares for cauliflower, 450 hectares for eggplant, 570 hectares for carrot, 430 hectares for radish and 1728 hectares for other vegetables.
But trading of vegetables worth Tk 100 to 150 crore hampered at Muladuli wholesale market in Ishwardi as supply from the famous vegetable market drastically fell due to frequent blockades and hartals in last two months.
“Truckers often refrain from carrying vegetables amid the blockades and hartals as picketers vandalise the vehicles, even conduct arson attack. A few truckers run their vehicles amid risk during the night but they charge excessive fair," said Md Abdul Hamid, president of Muladuli wholesale market association.
“Against the need of 50 to 70 trucks for carrying vegetables, now only five to ten trucks daily carry vegetables from Muladuli market. Up to 1.5 thousand tonnes of vegetables remain unsold here everyday," he said.
The situation has caused drastic price fall of vegetables.
A maund (40 kg) of bean is selling for Tk 200 to 300, eggplant for Tk 250 to 350, cauliflower for Tk 300 to 400 in the wholesale market while last year the items sold for Tk 1000 to 1200, said Aminur Rahman Babu, a vegetable producer, also a wholesale trader at Muladuli.
“I have cultivated bean on five bighas of land with the money taken as loan from an NGO. If a maund of bean sold for its usual price Tk one thousand, I could easily make profit. But the market price has fallen to Tk 300--400,” said Mokbul Hosain, a farmer of Par Khidirpur village.