Rice traders in Dhaka are cashing in on the coronavirus crisis which is causing deaths and heavily disrupting daily life.
Panicked shoppers are loading up on daily essentials - from rice to toilet papers - as the number of COVID-19 patients in Bangladesh rose to 20 on Friday with one confirmed fatality. Rice prices have also increased by up to Tk 12 in three days. The variety of Miniket rice, which was priced at Tk 54 a kg on Wednesday, was being sold at Tk 66 a kg in the capital.
There has been found a difference of up to Tk 400 between the wholesale and retail prices charged for a sack of 50kg rice, reports bdnews24.
'Shariful', a rice trader in Mirpur's Pirerbagh, said he was selling Sajeeb's Miniket rice at Tk 3,000 per sack. The price was Tk 2,700 four days ago and Tk 2,400 last week. He claimed he could not buy rice from the wholesale market in the past two days due to excessive pressure of shoppers.
"The wholesalers are selling directly to consumers at high prices. They [wholesalers] don't have time for us now," he said.
"The customers are not even bargaining. They are paying whatever prices the wholesalers are asking," said Sultan Ahmed, another rice trader in the area.
Ibrahim', who runs a supershop, said they faced a supply crisis because they usually stock goods for a week but the shoppers bought the stocks in a day.
Prices of other goods have also increased. Egg was being sold at Tk 112 per dozen, up from Tk 92 a week ago. Lentil price rose to Tk 110 from Tk 102.
A customer in Kazipara said he went home without buying onion as the seller asked Tk 70 a kg. When he returned after 10 minutes, the price rose to Tk 80 a kg, the customer said. The price dropped below Tk 45 last week after India lifted ban on export.
"If the well-to-do members of society keep stockpiling food, the prices will go out of the poor's reach very soon," said Ashraful Islam, teacher of a college in the area.
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