While it is recommended to consume 200gm of fruits every day, people from the lower and lower-middle income groups are finding it difficult to even consumer half that amount daily
Many people in the country are finding it difficult to purchase fruits even once a week, owing to high prices.
While it is recommended to consume 200gm of fruits every day, people from the lower and lower-middle income groups are finding it difficult to even consumer half that amount daily.
According to Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (Bari), the country has a demand of 11.68 million tons of fruits.
They also stated that the average daily fruit intake per person is 82gm, despite the required fruit intake being 200gm for proper nutrition.
There are 5.07 million tons of 70 types of fruits produced at 160,000 hectares of land — less than 1% of the total cultivable land in the country. This puts the demand deficit at 6.6 million tons.
Among those produced locally, 2.18 million tons come from gardening, and 2.89 million tons grown at homesteads, thus increasing dependency on import.
Anwar Hossain, a junior executive officer at a private organization, was found purchasing fruits for his family of five, who require at least a kilogram of it each day, as per nutrition demands.
But he was hesitant in purchasing as most of the fruits were out of his affordability reach.
“I need Tk200-400 if I want all my family members to meet their daily nutritional demand. If this purchasing continues then I would have to spend half of my salary on fruits. But I try to buy at least once a week," he lamented.
Aleya Begum, a schoolteacher, complained that despite its high nutritional values, local fruit prices were quite high.
Prices at a glance
Recently in retail fruit shops at Mirpur and Karwan Bazar and some super shops in the capital, per kg of apples were sold at Tk150-280, oranges Tk220-270, malta Tk150-170, red grapes Tk280-300, green grapes Tk300-380, dates Tk700-1,200, pomegranate Tk280-400, pear Tk220-280, dragon fruit Tk450-500, and green dates for Tk580. All of these are imported fruits.
Local fruit prices were also high, per kg of guava sold for Tk80, ripe papaya for Tk100 per piece, and pineapples for Tk50-60 apiece.
In four months of the calendar year from May to August, the country produces 54% of the total fruit production, while the remaining 46% is cultivated throughout the remainder of the year.
Mangoes, bananas, and jackfruits are the three prime fruits that accounts for 63% of the country's total fruit production.
Why consume fruits amid a pandemic?
Israt Jahan, coordinator (diet and nutrition) at Sajeda Foundation, said: “To boost our immune system, we suggest taking vitamins C and D, as well as zinc and protein. All these elements are available in fruits.
“Cooked food does not guarantee obtaining those nutritional elements, but fruits do. For those with Covid-19 symptoms, we suggest sour fruits like orange, which have plenty of vitamin C,” she further said.
“It is better to take fruits in daytime. If you cannot buy apples or oranges, you can opt for pineapples or other local fruits," Israt added.
What retailers, wholesalers and importers are saying
Md Fazle Rabbi, a fruit retailer at Karwan bazar, said: “We make a profit of Tk10-20 per kg from different fruits. We have to purchase at high prices, hence we are forced to sell it at higher prices."
He also opined that fruit prices were never so high like in recent times, that is why their sales are also decreasing.
Shohag Thakur, another fruit seller in Shewrapara, said that customers have reduced eating fruits due to its high prices. Most purchase only a little amount these days.
Almost all the fruits available in the markets are imported, even guava and papaya. Supply shortage has led to fruit price hikes, he added.
Shahidul Islam, proprietor of Shihon Fruits at Badamtali, a wholesale fruit market in the capital, said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they could not bring in much fruits, hence the supply crunch.
"We make a profit of Tk5-10 per kg, while retailers add Tk30-50 more to that. That is why the prices are high," he added.
Serajul Islam, general secretary of Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importer Association (BFFIA), said: “Oranges can only be imported from South Africa. On the other hand, its demand increased in Europe due to the pandemic. But oranges from India should arrive in 15 days, then its prices would reduce."
“We sell apples for Tk82 per kg, green grapes for Tk184 and red grapes for Tk175 per kg to wholesalers. But we also pay import duties of Tk40 per kg of apples, Tk70 per kg of green grapes and Tk90 per kg for red grapes. The Fruit price in the international market is not high, but here it is high as we have to pay 93% import duty,” he revealed.
“If import duties reduce then fruit prices would also reduce. We cannot control the price at the retail level,” Serajul added.