For the last one month, Akbar Hossain has been torn between two difficult choices: send his wife and children to the village or reduce the amount of money he sends his elderly parents.
The continued rise in the prices of essentials have made it impossible for him to afford both. Besides, his earning is still significantly lower than what it was before the pandemic.
"Soaring vegetable prices are making it impossible for people like us to continue living as we used to," said Akbar who runs a small fruit store in the capital's Kazipara area.
There is a growing frustration among people whose earning fell drastically because of the coronavirus restrictions.
"It has become very difficult nowadays to make ends meet as the prices of everything continues to skyrocket," he said.
Acres of submerged farms have meant vegetable production took a major hit this year, which obviously impacted the retail prices.
At the same time, the prices of kitchen essentials like rice, onion, oil, chicken, potato, eggs and fish also leapt over the last week.
These correspondents visited four kitchen markets and one wholesale market in Dhupkhola, Sutrapur, Kazipara, Shyambazar and Bhashantek areas in the last few days and found that the prices of these items rose by Tk 5 to Tk 90 per kg.
Each kg of aubergine was being sold at Tk 80, a Tk 20 jump in a week. Green chillies were being sold at Tk 200 per kg while the prices of other vegetables rose by Tk 10 to Tk 15 per kg.
Local onions sold for Tk 60 to Tk 70 per kg, a hike of Tk 10 from a week ago and Tk 30 from a month ago. At the wholesale market, onions were sold for Tk 52-54 per kg.
The traders at Shyambazar said not enough onion was being imported from India.
"As the amount of imported onions dropped, the prices of the local variety increased. But the prices might fall by a little because the supply increased on Thursday," said Sazu Ahmed, a wholesale store keeper in Shyambazar.
The prices of tilapia, koi, carp fish increased by Tk 20 to 30. However, the price of hilsa has fallen by Tk 100 to 150 per kg.
The price of potatoes rose by Tk 5 per kg and soybean oil by Tk 5 to 7 per litre in the last one month.
The prices of broiler chicken rose to Tk 130 per kg from Tk 120. The price of a dozen eggs, which was sold for Tk 100 to 110 a month ago, was sold at Tk 108 to Tk 120.
"We have stopped eating fish, beef, and onions because it's impossible for us to afford them," said Phulbanu, a resident of Bhashantek slum.
"Our income has dropped to around Tk 200 a day," said Phulbanu who sells vegetables on footpaths.
Ismail, a shopkeeper in Bhashantek slum area, said the sales at his grocery store have halved after the pandemic hit the country.
"I could sell goods worth Tk 10,000 to Tk 8,000 every day before the pandemic, but now it's about Tk 3,000 on most days," said Ismail.
Golam Rahman, president of Consumer Association of Bangladesh, said the traders raised the prices of things like rice "without any reason".
"The government will have to reduce taxes and port charges or intervene in the import of essential goods," he said.
TCB TO START SELLING FOUR ESSENTIALS
Trading Corporation of Bangladesh will start selling onion, lentil, sugar and soybean oil from 275 trucks at reasonable prices, said Mohammad Humayun Kabir, information officer at the TCB.
He said the sale will start today and continue until October 1.
Of the trucks, 40 will be in Dhaka, 10 in Chattogram, seven in Rangpur, five each in Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barishal, Sylhet, Bogura and Cumilla, three each in Jhenidah and Madaripur and two each in the other districts.
A kg of sugar would be sold at Tk 50, lentil at Tk 50, onion at Tk 30, and a litre of soybean oil at Tk 80.