The price of fuel has an impact on everything.
The sharp rise in fuel oil prices, coupled with recurrent load shedding, has hit the rural economy hard, affecting farmers, small and large businesses, transport, fishing and poultry farming.
Meanwhile, low- and middle-income people are being left behind with prices for almost every commodity soaring beyond their reach.
“The current load shedding has already belittle my book business. Now the rising price of fuel oil has hit me twice,” said Guljar Ahmad, owner of Poppy Library in Zindabazar region of Sylhet.
“We face power outages 5/6 times a day. I used a generator during load shedding. But that too became impossible due to excessive fuel oil prices,” he said.
“My business costs have increased significantly, but book prices cannot be increased. Do you see the problem? said the bookseller.
Echoing the same, Shanto Dev, the owner of Spicy Restaurant and Party Center in Zindabazar, said, “Even if a customer is present in my restaurant, I have to keep all the lights and air conditioning on. During load shedding, they must be powered by generators. The cost of running generators has increased, but food prices cannot suddenly increase. It’s hard to keep doing business like this.
About 100,000 fishermen in the Hatia Island Upazila of Noakhali use motorboats and trawlers for deep sea fishing. Diesel is used as fuel in these fishing boats and trawlers. Needless to say, these fishermen are looking at higher costs.
Rising fuel prices also impacted ice cream and fertilizer markets.
Ice cream traders said that around 80 liters of diesel is needed for the machine to make 100 pieces of ice. Previously, it cost 6,400 Tk of fuel, which has now increased to 9,600 Tk.
Fertilizer trader Bahar Uddin said, “Before the fuel price hike, the wholesale price of urea per 50 kg bag was 860 Tk, currently it is 1,160 Tk. in the retail market, the price of urea increased from 6 Tk to 26 Tk and the TSP increased from 5 Tk to 40 Tk per kg.
In Naogaon, the price of all varieties of rice, including Swarna-5 (coarse rice), increased by 4-5 Tk per kg in the retail market during the week, putting more pressure on people low income.
Farhad Hossain Chakdar, Secretary General of the Naogaon District Rice Mill Owners Association, said, “The cost of transporting 200 maunds of rice to market by farmers has risen from Tk 3,000 to Tk 5,000. Dhaka went from 10-12,000 Tk to 16-17,000 Tk.”
Fuel oil prices have affected agro-industry and meat production on farms in Lakshmipur.
Md Shariful Islam runs a large scale farming business in Char Mansa village of Lakshmipur sadar upazila. He is the director of the Fazor Ali Agro complex. He owns three poultry farms where about 30,000 chickens are raised.
According to Shariful Islam, the power is cut at least 4-5 times a day and he has to run the generator 5-7 times a day to keep the temperature bearable for the poultry. After the fuel price hike, her daily expenses increased by about Tk 10,000.
Abdul Baten Bhuiyan, the owner of Bhuiyan Traders – a fertilizer, seed and pesticide dealer in the Torabganj market of Kamalnagar Upazila in Lakshmipur, said: “Rising fuel prices have put farmers in great distress. their tariffs, and the cost of irrigation has increased.”
Economic analyst, Professor Anwarul Qadir, said: “Right now, the inflation rate is higher in the villages than in the cities in our country. Load shedding, together with increased fuel prices, will further increase the rate of inflation in the rural economy.
“Agriculture is the largest part of the rural economy. Fuel oil is needed for various works including irrigation. As farmers are currently not subsidized, the price of food crops and other agricultural products will go increase,” he said.
Hanif Ali, a farmer from Gutudia village of Dumuria upazila of Khulna, said: “Cultivated land needs to be irrigated regularly for rice planting. Irrigation with diesel engines has become more difficult due to high prices. that too is not possible due to terrible load shedding.”
Cumilla’s popular mobile markets for curries, fruit, vegetables and other staples have also seen a slump in sales.
Mosharraf Hossain, who sells fruit on the sidewalks in the town of Cumilla, said: “Rising fuel prices have affected the prices of everything. People have reduced fruit consumption. I used to sell fruit for an average of 4,000 Tk per day, which has now decreased to 2,000 Tk. Transport costs have increased so much that I can no longer support this company.
Production at factories in Brahmanbaria BSCIC Industrial City fell by around 60% due to load shedding and rising fuel prices.
Rice mill owner Arju Mia from Panishwar village of Sarail upazila of Brahmanbaria said, “Due to load shedding, rice mills now take two to three days to break the paddy, with an average loss of 10-12,000 Tk per day.
Ayub Ali, a farmer from Bhimpur village in Naogaon sadar upazila, said the government should do something to save the farmer. “If the farmer does not survive, the country will not survive,” he said.
More than 100 small and medium industrial factories have been established in Bogura region Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC).
AKM Mahfuzur Rahman, deputy general manager of this organization, said: “BSCIC uses large electric motors. In the absence of electricity, a huge amount of diesel is needed to run these motors through generators. Many factories have been temporarily shut down, reducing Bogura BSCIC production by at least 20%.
Prices of different varieties of paddy and rice increased by about Tk 100 per maund and about Tk 100-150 per maund respectively at Ashuganj of Brahmanbaria, the largest paddy market in the eastern region of the country, in a week due to the unusual rise in fuel prices. .
In addition to small and large industrial factories, local businesses have been directly affected by the prices of basic necessities. The kitchen market and even the medical services sector have been hit hard.
Obaidur Rahman Abhi, chairman of Savar Town Center Shop Owners Association and Merchants Welfare Association, told The Business Standard: “First there are power cuts regularly, then the market must be closed at 8 p.m. If you add the extra cost of fuel, then I have nothing to say. How we’re doing is pretty clear.”
Recurrent power cuts have affected various local private hospitals, diagnostic centers and health centers.
Aminur Rahman, president of the Savar Private Hospital Owners Association and owner of Prime Hospital, told TBS: “On average, we experience 3 to 4 hour load shedding per day. It consumes at least 200 liters of diesel per day at my one facility to run the generator, and the situation is the same for everyone.Our daily cost is skyrocketing and we may have no choice but to increase the cost of service.
According to Dinajpur farmers, about 2.5 to 3 liters of fuel oil are needed for one salo machine to irrigate one bigha (48 decimal places) of land. After the price hike, farmers have to pay Tk 102 more than before for irrigation.
On the one hand, the cost of cultivation has increased and on the other hand, the cost of producing rice from paddy has also increased, they said.
Zarina Begum from Dakshin Balua Danga region, who came to buy rice from Bahadur Bazaar in Dinajpur city, said: “Poor people like me have the most problems. The price of rice is rising every day. A bag of rice that cost 3 Tk, 200 a few days ago now costs 3,400 Tk. I used to buy one bag at a time, but now I will buy half a bag.
[Our district correspondents contributed to this story]