When vegetable farmers in Pirojpur were getting ready to bounce back from the losses they incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic, inclement weather forced them to refrain from preparing the land for cultivation.
But now, after they started to harvest the produce with the hope to recover their losses, the wholesale prices have dropped unexpectedly.
The prices of almost all winter vegetables — especially tomato, cauliflower, cabbage and aubergine (brinjal or egg plant) — have fallen sharply over the last couple of weeks, said farmers.
Presently, depending on the item, each kilogram of vegetable is being sold for between Tk 4 and 6 at wholesale markets. The prices of the same items at retail markets are around Tk 15 now.
Wholesale price of a kg of tomato is now between Tk 4 and 5. But its price was Tk 60 at the beginning of the season.
“The price of tomato starts to fall towards the end of the season every year, but it never falls more than Tk 20 per kg,” said farmer Enamul Sheikh from Baniari village in Nazirpur upazila.
The prices are dipping most likely because there have been a few buyers as opposed to a good supply of vegetables at the wholesale markets, he also said.
Now it is a challenge to recover the production cost, let alone making profit, said Chinmoy Roy, another farmer from the same village.
Jagadish Chandra Roy, an elderly farmer in the village, said he never saw such price fall in 25 years.
“We did not face so much trouble in the past when vegetable prices fell because back then both production cost and prices were low,” he said, adding that the cost to cultivate one bigha of land is now at least Tk 30,000.
The price of cauliflower or brinjal at the local wholesale market is below Tk 6 now. At such low prices, it is difficult to pay a farm labourer Tk 600 every day and at the same time recover the production cost of the produce, he added.
Bijan Krishna Howlader, sub assistant agriculture officer in Nazirpur upazila, said they did their best to help farmers reap a good harvest and that is why vegetable production has been good this time despite poor weather conditions.