Demand high, pay low
Coconut grower Shahinur was shocked to see how a single green coconut was being sold for Tk 80 in Barishal city near Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital. But, at her village, in close proximity to the city, she recently sold each coconut to traders for only Tk 12.
Demand for the nourishing water of green coconut peaks during the summertime when prices for the fruit increases significantly, especially in big cities and towns.
When traders and retailers are cashing in on the high demand, its growers in rural areas, mostly in the south of the country, are left to accept less than one-fifth of the fruit's final retail price.
A coconut grower in Jhalakthi Sadar upazila, Shukla Rani, said, "I am stunned to find out that a green coconut sells for Tk 60 to 80 in the capital, whereas we [the growers] get only Tk 12 to 15 for each. The traders are getting richer, but we continue to suffer in poverty."
Small traders first procure the green coconut from growers at villages. Different traders then sell the fruit to wholesale traders in the area. The wholesale traders load around 5,000 to 6,000 of the fruit in each truck and transport those to big cities including Dhaka.
After it reaches the city, green coconut is then sold to wholesale trading houses. Retailers buy it in bulk from the trading houses and sell it to the end consumer.
Shahidul Islam, a Jhalakathi wholesale trader who sells green coconut to wholesale trading houses in Dhaka, said, "Local traders buy each coconut from growers at Tk 13 to 15. I buy it from them for Tk 20 and sell it for Tk 29 to 32 to the wholesale trading houses in the capital. From there fruit sellers or vendors buy it for Tk 36 to 45 and sell it to consumers for Tk 45 to 80 or more, depending on the situation and its size."
"I make four trips to Dhaka each month with a truckload of 5,000 to 6,000 green coconuts. I make Tk 5 to 10 profit on each coconut and my monthly profit stands at around Tk 2 lakh," said Pannu, another wholesale trader.
The traders said they procure most green coconut from southern districts in the country for its quality and reasonable price.
It takes four or five years for each coconut tree to start bearing fruits and months of June and July are the best time to plant the tree, said Riaj Ullah Bahadur, agriculture officer of Rajapur upazila.