The salt farmers are incurring losses due to a fall in prices of the commodity.
The ground-level price of salt was Tk 500 per maund and mill-gate price Tk 570 per maund in the first week of this month. The ground-level price is now only Tk 260 per maund and mill-gate price Tk 240. The price has almost halved in a span of three weeks, leaving the farmers to count the cost in the peak season of salt.
According to the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), salt is cultivated in 10 upazilas of Cox's Bazar and Chattogram. More than 66,291 acres of land have been brought under salt cultivation in Chokoria, Pakua, Kutubdia, Moheshkhali, Eidgaon, Sadar upazila, Ukhia and Teknaf of Cox's Bazar and the Anwara and Banshkhali coastal belt in Chattogram this season. Last year the land area under salt cultivation was 63,291 acres.
Some of the farmers have their own land while many others use their salt land on lease.
The production of salt was 1,831,931 tonnes last year. But this year the target has been set higher at 2,357,000 tonnes.
Officials of the Cox's Bazar Salt Industries Development Project said the acreage of salt cultivation increased in greater Chattogram this year. The target of salt production is 2,357,000 tonnes this year, which has been fulfilled.
The salt farmers applied the polythene system for cultivation. As a result, both quality and quantity of salt increased, they said.
Cox's Bazar Salt Farmers Songram Porishad President Moksud Ahamed said, "The mill owners are trying to control the price of salt by creating a syndicate. The syndicate is lowering the price of salt."
Cox's Bazar Salt Farmers Songram Porishad leader Abu Tayeb said, "The ground-level price of salt was Tk 500 per maund and mill-gate price was Tk 570 in the first week of this month. The ground-level price is now only Tk 260 and mill-gate price Tk 240."
Salah Uddin, a salt farmer, said, "We supply the raw salt to the factories. They refine the salt and mix iodine with it. Then they package it for sale to the markets."
General Secretary of Salt Workers Union at Banshkhali Mostafa Ali said, "We have supplied huge salt to the factories in the country. But, the salt farmers and workers are not getting the proper prices."
Talking to The Financial Express, salt farmers in Chattogram and Cox's Bazar called upon the authorities concerned to stop import of the commodity from neighbouring countries and make sure the farmers get fair prices for their produce.