The prices of watermelons have gone beyond the reach of the commoners despite sufficient supply of the popular summer fruit in both retail and wholesale Sylhet markets.
During visits to different markets in the city on Tuesday, it was found that the prices are much higher in the retail market compared to that in the wholesale market. The prices become double in the retail market, many consumers alleged.
Watermelon has hit the market amid the sweltering heat.
It is the most popular fruit in the sunny summer in this tropical weather. The country has seen a bumper watermelon yield this season, but the consumers with the fixed income are not benefiting from the abundance of the summer fruit as the prices remain beyond their reach.
Middlemen are being blamed for the exorbitant prices of the fruit in the retail market.
Wholesalers at Subhanighat markets said despite the ample supply, the consumers are not getting the benefits of bumper harvest as the retailers are putting much higher price tags.
The wholesale traders were found selling watermelons at Tk 20 to Tk 100 a piece depending on sizes. But the retailers are selling a small watermelon at Tk 100-150, a medium-sized one at Tk 200-300 and the big ones at Tk 350-400 per piece.
Saiful Islam, a retailer at Amborkhana said he has to keep a higher profit margin to cope with the soaring living costs in the city amid the rise in utility costs and prices of other essentials.
Department of Agriculture Extension projects the watermelon yields this year at 20 lakh tonnes from the acreage of 40,000 hectares due to favourable weather conditions. Watermelon output was 19 lakh tonnes last year from 44,000 hectares.