It is not often that residents of the city have the chance to buy fresh vegetables directly from growers, but that is all set to change.
“Krishoker Bazar” [farmers’ market] -- a new initiative by the agriculture ministry has introduced a space where farmers can bring their goods directly to their urban customers.
From now on, the ministry will arrange the country’s first ever farmers’ market at Sech Bhaban premises on the capital’s Manik Mia Avenue from 7am to 11am on the weekend [Friday and Saturday].
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque on Friday inaugurated the market, announcing that they are planning to run it throughout the week, and expand to different parts of Dhaka and other cities.
The vegetables sold at the market have been certified safe by the ministry, meaning the produce were grown without using artificial chemicals like conventional fertilisers and pesticides.
The concept, which is already popular in many countries around the world, have already been received well by both growers and buyers.
Talking to The Daily Star, farmers said they are getting good prices, as no broker is involved in the selling processes, while buyers expressed satisfaction over the pricing and quality of the produce.
“The products we sell here are priced almost close to that of the city kitchen markets, like Karwan Bazar. Our prices are lower than those of the super shops,” claimed Kobbad Hossain Ovi.
“We are able to offer this price because we can sell our goods directly to consumers and no brokers are involved here,” said the young farmer from Savar.
This newspaper visited the Karwan Bazar kitchen market and a super shop in Farmgate area, and found his claims to be true.
It found prices of some of the vegetables to be between Tk 5 to Tk 20 higher than those of Karwan Bazar, while some were similarly priced. A number of items sold at the farmers’ market were found priced Tk 5 to Tk 10 cheaper than the city’s largest kitchen market.
Besides, most produce were found cheaper than prices at the the super shop.
Arjumand Banu, a shopper at the farmers’ market, said the quality of the vegetables are satisfactory.
“My main concern is how long they will be able to maintain the safe standard. I hope they will not mix conventional products with those in future in order to make extra profit,” said the housewife from Dhanmondi.
About the prices, Fazlur Rahman, another shopper who came from Mohammadpur, said the pricing is okay as long as they maintain the quality. “The variation of Tk 5 to Tk 10 will not bother us much, if we get safe produce,” he added.
The banker also said farmers will have to gain consumers’ trust about the vegetables grown without using chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Shahor Ali, a farmer from Singiar upazila of Manikganj, said despite the competitive price tag, they are able to make profit although it is not sufficient.
“We don’t mind the low profit margin, as we are trying to popularise the market. We hope to make more profit when our sales increase in the future,” he added.
Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and Department of Agriculture Marketing (DAM) are implementing the market idea, while Bangladesh Food Safety Authority is working on quality management.
During the visit at the market between 8am to 10am, this reporter found plenty of shoppers gathered at the market.
In some cases, farmers were found struggling to handle the crowed, particularly because only a handful of shops were operating.
Asked about the limited participation of growers, Hahibur Rahman Chowdhury, a deputy director of DAE, said some farmers -- who could not sell sufficient amount of goods on Friday -- did not participate yesterday out of frustration.
“We are trying our best to promote farmers so that their participation increases. I hope farmers’ participation and the crowd will increase significantly next week,” he added.