Lentil prices shot up in Chattogram in the last two weeks thanks to a sudden rise in its demand as a relief item, countrywide restriction on movement and poor supply.
Wholesale prices of different varieties of red lentil marked a sharp rise by Tk 10 to Tk 20 per kilogram at Khatunganj wholesale hub.
Traders blamed the supply disruption on the shortage of workers to process raw lentils and transport crisis to deliver the goods from the port and warehouses to the market.
Wholesalers at the hub said they are in a shortage of ready grains as only 15 out of 40 lentil processing mills of Chaktai and Khatunganj areas are now in operation.
Moreover, the mills that are open are processing lentil on a limited scale, as most of their workers have left for their village homes since the beginning of the 10-day government holiday on March 26.
A lack of transport facilities is obstructing the imported grains to reach the hub from warehouses, off-docks and the port, said Sanjoy Deb, a mill owner.
The recent upward trend of global lentil prices by around $100 per tonne also left an impact on the local market, he said.
Demand for the big-sized red lentil imported from Australia and Canada has risen this week as different government and volunteer organisations have recently geared up food donation activities for the low-income people.
The price of big-sized red lentil rose by Tk 12 to 15 a kilo to Tk 70 to Tk 72 against the last week's price of Tk 55 to Tk 60.
The importers have hiked the prices of the raw grain imported from Australia and Canada by Tk 200 to Tk 250 per maund (37.32kg) and have been selling it at Tk 2,150 per maund, said Solaiman Badsha, proprietor of wholesale firm Taibiya Traders at Khatunganj.
Best quality small-sized lentil grown locally was selling at Tk 128 to Tk 130 per kg yesterday while the price was Tk 110 a kg 15 days ago.
The price of small-sized Indian lentil rose by Tk 10 to Tk 120 a kg.
Good quality yellow petite lentil known as mung dal saw the highest increase. Its wholesale price increased by Tk 20 per kilo to hit Tk 140.
Medium quality mung dal was selling at Tk 128 against the previous price of Tk 112.
Price of split chickpeas known as chana dal, however, saw a little hike as the price rose by Tk 4 a kg to Tk 38.
Retail prices also rose.
Retailers in the kitchen markets were selling Australian big-sized red lentil at Tk 78 to Tk 80 a kg while the price was Tk 65 two weeks back.
Indian red lentil was sold at Tk 125 to Tk 128 a kg, up from Tk 120.