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Blockade blisters vegetable farmers̢۪ fate

Tapos Kanti Das

A drastic drop in the price of winter vegetables at the growers end caused by supply chain disruption because of recent blockades of roads, railway and waterways has left thousands of farmers in the country in dire straits. 
Farmers in Rangpur, Narsingdi, Munshiganj, Sirajganj. Rajshahi, Bogra, Gazipur and Manikganj reported a fall in price to as much as a fifth of what they received only a month ago, as wholesalers now refrained from buying vegetable being unable to send them to Dhaka. 
They said that potatoes sold at Tk 60 to Tk 70 a kilogram only a month back and now were selling for Tk 7-8.
The price of aubergine and beans have dropped to
a third, while cauliflower, usually sold at Tk 25 to Tk 30 per piece, is now being sold at Tk 5-7, they said.
Farmers now fear that they would not be able to realise their production cost despite good production this year.
The opposition-sponsored blockade programmes, which have being going on since November 26 barring Fridays and victory day, has increased transportation costs many times and wholesalers had been buying at a lower prices to compensate the cost, claim wholesalers.
‘Because of successive general strike and blockade programmes, the wholesalers are not going to farmers and as a result the farmers are forced to sell their goods to local traders at a very low rate,’ Bangladesh Krishok Samity general secretary Sajjad Zahir Chandan told New Age.
The price of advanced species of potato that mostly grows in Rangpur has come down to Tk 7-8 a kg at growers’ level, although though the price was Tk 60-70 a month ago.
‘I could produce 1,300 kilograms of advanced potato from my 25 decimals of land by spending about Tk 12,000 but yesterday sold it for Tk 8 a kg, less than my production cost,’ said Golam Mostafa, a farmer of Abhirampur village under Mithapukur in Rangpur.
He said that in the past one month, prices of aubergine came to Tk 300-400 per 40 kilograms from Tk 1,200-1,300 and beans to Tk 240 or Tk 300 per 40 kilograms from Tk 1,200 or Tk 1,400.
Balaram Mohanta, a farmer of Lahirirhat village under Rangpur Sadar upazila said that some of his neighbouring farmers kept their cauliflowers in the field expecting that the blockade would end and they would be able to sell their produces at a good price but their produces were damaged in the field.
He said that cauliflower was selling for Tk 5-7 a kg while the rate was Tk 25-30 a month ago.
New Age correspondent in Narsingdi reported that vegetable farmers in the district were frustrated with heavy loss as winter vegetables were selling at very low prices and even perishing for want of buyers due to absence of transports.
Abdul Jalil, a farmer at Masumpur village under Shibpur in Narsingdi, said that he cultivated cauliflower, cabbage, beans and Lal-shak on 330 decimals of land but he was compelled to sell his produces at very low prices in the local markets. ‘I will not be able to realise my production cost.’
A cauliflower sells for Tk 2-3 in the local markets in Narsingdi.
As many had been waiting for ending the blockade programme and stopped harvesting, a huge amount of vegetables have perished in the fields, according to Shibpur upazila agriculture office.
Because of supply chain disruption, the farmers are being compelled to sell their produces to the local consumers and a few local wholesalers, reported New Age correspondent in Sirajganj.
Similar reports were received from the New Age correspondents in Bogra, Gazipur, Munshiganj and Manikganj.

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