Shahjahan is a rickshaw puller who earns around Tk 900-1200 and has to pay his rickshaw owner around Tk 200-300 everyday. That leaves him around 600 Tk per day for food and daily expenses.
“I have a family of 4 and I have to spend my money carefully. Usually to save costs I eat attar ruti for 1 or 2 meals a day which saves me a little on buying rice now,” he said.
But now things have changed. The price of atta (flour) and coarse rice is almost the same – both around 52-55 Tk per kg – which was between 45-50 Tk for rice and 28-30 Tk for atta il barely a year ago, he added.
“I no longer know which one to eat as an alternative. My income is not increasing. Due to the increase in the price of everything, passengers also get angry if we ask for more because they also suffer from the price increase,” he added.
In addition, those who used to ride rickshaws for short distances are now walking, he added.
The increase in fuel prices on August 6 had a huge impact on the commodity market, as the price of essential products such as rice, pulses, fish, meat, vegetables and eggs increased.
According to the state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the price of bulk and packaged atta increased by 58.33% and 54.41% respectively, while bulk and packaged all-purpose flour (maida ) increased by 57.53%. and 55.17% respectively.
However, people say that the data provided by TCB is not always accurate as the real retail market scenario is totally different.
In the turmoil that is the rice market, the price of one kilogram of nazirshail rice soared to Tk 80, coarse to Tk 54-57 and paijam to Tk 60-65, about Tk 5-7 less in the week last.
The owner of Comilla Rice Agency in Karwan Bazar said that the price of rice has increased by Tk 150-200 per bag at the wholesale level due to the increase in the price of fuel, which has had an impact on transport costs and mill operating costs.
Robiul Islam of Laxmipur store in Karwan Bazar said that after fuel prices increased, prices of all kinds of commodities rose again leading to further rise in prices of atta and maida which were increasing already because of the war since March.
Basic protein source out of reach
The price of broiler chicken has risen to 210 taka per kg, that of sonali chicken to 310-320 taka per kg and the price of eggs to 155-160 taka per dozen.
When visiting Karwan Bazar, there was no fish available below 200 Tk per kg. The price of pangas fish (South Asian catfish) also jumped along with rui (local carp), katla (main South Asian carp) and pabda (Indian catfish).
Most middle and low income people rely heavily on the above for protein.
But due to this rising price, most animal protein sources are out of reach for middle and low income groups.
Sirazul Islam, a private sector employee, said he used to eat chicken because he could no longer afford beef or mutton.
“Now the situation is such that I also have to stop eating chicken,” he added, saying they had no protein source left.
Amit Saha, a student and job seeker, who lives in a mess (boy’s house), said eggs were the main source of protein in their mess.
“Now eggs are gradually getting out of reach,” he added, saying their meal prices were increasing by leaps and bounds every month.
Volatile fruit market
Transport costs have increased due to rising fuel prices and the devaluation of the taka against the dollar. This has increased the cost of imports, which has led to the turbulent situation prevailing in the fruit market.
Apple is sold at Tk 240-300 per kg depending on the variants, while orange and malt are sold at Tk 250-280 per kg. He was spotted after visiting several kitchen markets in the capital.
The price of pineapple also jumped to Tk 80-130 per two pieces depending on size, while green coconut jumped to Tk 100-120 per piece, lemon to Tk 60 per dozen and banana to 90-120 Tk per dozen depending on the variants.
Requesting anonymity, an official from the state-owned Bangladesh Krishi Bank said that now he was afraid to go to the market and the balance of income and expenditure did not match in such an unstressed market.
Sugar: sour or sweet?
The price of sugar increased by 5-7 Tk per kg in the space of two days to reach 90 Tk per kg in Karwan Bazar, which was at 82 Tk a week ago.
However, packaged sugar is sold at Tk 85 per kg. But the supply of this sugar on the market is very low.
Commodities and vegetables also progress
The cost of transportation has increased due to soaring fuel prices, which has also affected the vegetable market. Almost every day the price of vegetables increases by 10 Tk to 20 Tk per unit.
Prices for all types of vegetables jumped from Tk 20 to 50 per unit. Squash was sold at Tk 70-80 per kg, long beans at Tk 60-65, eggplant at Tk 80, cucumber at Tk 80 and green peppers at Tk 200-220 per kg.
The price of lentils has increased to Tk 140 per kg for the finer version and Tk 110 per kg for the coarse version.
The price of garlic, ginger, meat, onions – almost everything has risen again almost every day.