The salt produced in the six upazilas of Cox’s Bazar and Banshkhali in Chattogram last season is still left in the field and in various warehouses. At present there is no shortage of salt in the industrial and consumer sectors of the country.
The amount of salt in the country’s mills will last for a few more months. Apart from that, the salt production season is starting after one month. Even after that, the leaders of the salt farmers and traders’ association have alleged that a powerful syndicate is conspiring to import salt from abroad by giving wrong information to the government.
They demanded that the powerful Dhaka-based syndicate has started a new campaign to destroy the salt farmers and the local salt industry. Due to that syndicate, the domestic salt industry is on the verge of destruction. Therefore, the farmers are now expecting strict measures from the government to save this industry.
According to the Cox’s Bazar office of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), as of September 30, there are 4.5 lakh tonnes of salt in the field and 1.5 lakh tonnes in the mills. And there are at least one lakh metric tons of salt stored in the pipeline (various retail stocks). According to the demand for the next three months, 5.5 lakh tonnes of salt will be needed.
In contrast, there are reserves of seven lakh metric tons. Therefore, there is no shortage of salt in the country and there is no need to import a handful of salt from abroad.
Allegedly, the old importer syndicate has already become active again. Some salt mill owners have joined that syndicate. They have united and formed a strong syndicate. So that salt can be imported from abroad by any means.
At the field level, the price of salt is Tk 5 per kg. But it is being sold in the market in packaged form up to Tk 35 to Tk40. There is a huge difference in retail prices. Although the pockets of the middlemen are becoming heavy, the marginal farmers are being deprived. Marginal farmers said only strong government intervention can save the industry.
Salt farmers also held a press conference at Cox's Bazar Press Club last Saturday to demand this. Advocate AHM Shahid Ullah Chowdhury, general secretary of Cox’s Bazar Lobon Chashi and Bebsayi Songram Porishad, in a written statement said, “With the current stock of salt produced in the country, the demand of the people can be met till February 2022.
Despite having a stock of seven lakh tonnes of salt against the demand, an unscrupulous syndicate by the name of Salt Mill Owners Association is once again trying to import salt from abroad by giving wrong information to the government. So the conspiracy against the domestic salt industry must be stopped.”