The prices of betel has nearly tripled in last two months as the popular chewing leaf saw production fall mainly due to cold injuries during the last winter.
Our Barisal Correspondent reports: One bira (72 pieces) of betel leaf is selling up to Tk 200 but two months ago it was Tk 50 to 60, said Santu Mitra, a betel wholesale trader at Batajore, the biggest wholesale betel market in the southern region.
Ten to 12 trucks loaded with betel daily leave for different destinations including Dhaka, while it was double two months ago, he added.
In the current season, 34,610 tonnes of betel leaf has been produced from about 5,337 hectares of land, while it was 38,759 tonnes from 5,225 hectares of land last year, said Tushar Kanti Samadder, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension in Barisal.
Excessive rain and leaf spot diseases are the main cause of low production, he said.
"This year I have sold betel leaf worth Tk 2 lakh but it's around half than last year's,” said Anjan Das, 45, of Rakhaltala village in Ujirpur upazila of Barisal.
Aminul Sohag, a trader from Dhaka, said, “We come to this wholesale market as there is huge demand for its good taste and size. But this season the price of betel reached record high.”
Anwar Hossain, a betel leaf retailer, said one piece made betel leaf is now selling for Tk 8 which was Tk 5 two months ago.
Our Dinajpur Correspondent adds: Betel is being imported from India through Hili Land port in Hakimpur upazila of the district to meet the demand of the chewing leaf, as its production dropped due to last year's floods and cold injuries and fog during the last winter.
Seventeen tonnes of betel leaf was imported through the land port from India in February and another four tones till March 8, said the customs officials of Hili Land Port.
Harun Ur Rashid, president of Importers and Exporters Group of Hili Land Port, said, “We are importing betel to meet the demand of the domestic market as its local production fell.”
Depending on its size and thickness, locally produced betel leaf is sold at Tk 100 to 170 per 64 pieces in Dinajpur and adjacent districts, although it was Tk 50 to 60 only a few weeks ago, local traders said, adding that imported betel leaf is now selling between Tk 90 to 100 per 64 pieces.