Soaring prices of daily essentials are hurting low and middle-income families in the capital as they find it increasingly hard to pay for the same basic essentials amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Officials said prices have been on the rise over the last few weeks due to a shortage of supply as many farmers lost their produce to rain and flooding.
According to them, this happens during the monsoon season every year.
But this year's situation has become unbearable for people on a low fixed income as the coronavirus outbreak has significantly slowed the country's economic activities.
At the capital's kitchen markets, prices of vegetables have shot up by Tk 5 to Tk 70 per kg in a week, according to statistics of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) and Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
Take for example the rise in price of green chili. On June 30, it was sold for Tk 130 per kg, up from Tk 60 on June 22.
The prices of rice and broiler chicken have also gone up by Tk 1 to Tk 20 per kg. Egg, a major source of protein, was sold at Tk 108 per dozen on Tuesday, up from Tk 102 a week ago.
The soaring prices have left many families struggling to make ends meet.
Jahirul Islam, a teacher of a private college, said he used to spend an amount of between Tk 16,000 and Tk 18,000 per month on daily meals before the pandemic hit the country in March. He made some adjustments to his monthly expenses and brought the amount down to Tk 14,000 as his office could not pay him on time.
"I depend on the salary and private tuition fees for my income. My income from private tuition has stopped due to the pandemic. On the other hand, our college is not paying us regularly as academic activities remain suspended," he said.
He said he was using his savings now to meet the expenses, but he was still finding it difficult to cover the expenses as the prices of essentials keep on rising.
Hasibur Rahman, a hardware trader in the capital's Karwan Bazar, said his sales have dropped significantly due to the decline in construction works.
"But my family's demand for food remains unchanged. God only knows what the future holds," he said.
In the week between June 22-30, the price of beef has dropped by Tk 50 to Tk 550. The prices per kg of cardamom, cumin and cinnamon has dropped by Tk 400, Tk 20 and Tk 10 respectively. On Tuesday, these items were sold for Tk 4,000, Tk 400 and Tk 430 a kg.
According to DAM, vegetables sold in Dhaka city are mostly brought from Keraniganj upazila, Narsingdi, Cumilla and some northern districts.
The DAM's senior agriculture marketing officer in Cumilla, Mohammed Zakareya, said vegetables were damaged due to heavy rain in recent weeks and that ultimately disrupted the supply.
"Vegetables like papaya, bitter gourd, and snake gourd are sold for Tk 35 to Tk 60 per kg in retail markets in Cumilla," he added.
The DAM's market investigator in Munshiganj, Shariful Islam, said most of the district's low-lying areas, where vegetables are grown, went under water in recent weeks.
"In fact, vegetables are now being brought to Munshiganj from Dhaka's Shyambazar. This has led to a shortage of vegetables in the markets of the capital," he said.
Shovan Kumar Dhar, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Narsingdi, said shortage of vegetables are seen at local markets during the monsoon season every year.
"Vegetables grown in summer are damaged due to rain and flooding. On the other hand, we have run out of winter vegetables. That's why there is a shortage of supply at markets, which caused the prices to rise," he added.
Dhar said farmers would be able to grow new vegetables once the flood water recedes. There will be a shortage of vegetables in the market until that crop is harvested, he told The Daily Star.
Arifuzzaman Bhuyan, executive engineer of Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre, said it might rain across the country throughout this month.
"The current flood situation may remain almost unchanged until July 15," he added.