The continued rise in food prices in April reflects the effect of seasonal factors, including Ramadan and the effects on lockdowns linked to COVID-19, including the closure of the border with India, which has slowed down the influx of imports.
Bangladesh’s consumer price index hit an all-time high of 291.96 points, the highest since July 2011 reflecting the overall rise in commodity prices.
The price of rice has declined slightly in most markets and is likely to stabilize and / or decline further as supply from the harvest of other varieties of rice continues to be available in the markets (including harvest early Boro rice).
Soybean oil prices are up 6 to 8 percent in all markets from last month and are 30 to 40 percent higher than the same month last year. The price remains high in part due to higher prices in the international market.
Onion prices declined in the first weeks of April and increased slightly in the second half of April, reflecting the start of Ramadan and the lockdown (lockdown period: April 5-May 16).
The price of red lentils remained stable in most markets, continuing a trend seen from March, boosted by adequate stock levels.
Reports of increased transaction costs have been reported for vehicles loaded with goods cleared to cross border points due to intense controls and health requirements introduced to comply with COVID-19 prevention measures.
Despite the availability of stock and the short replenishment lead time of 1-3 days, the prices of chickpeas, brinjal / eggplant, potato and tomato have increased due to additional demand for Ramadan and increased transportation costs across the country.
In the camps, key informants reported difficulties in resupplying since the lockdown, as well as a marginal increase in the prices of major commodities circulating inside the camps, mainly due to rising transport costs.
Reports of increased food purchases on credit and some sales of food aid were also reported, possibly to address the cash flow shortages of Rohingya households exacerbated by recent restrictions.
Although prices tend to fall after Ramadan, a prolonged lockdown could still push them up. Close monitoring of market dynamics is recommended.
Food insecurity and the vulnerability of poor market-dependent households could increase further, due to the cumulative effects of the monsoon and lockdowns.