POST TIME: 2 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Rising onion prices bring tears

Rising onion prices bring tears

The price of onions brought tears to the eyes of the middle class last year—it fluctuated between Tk. 15-30 a kg in 2016 and rose up to Tk. 130 in 2017. Onions imported from India were sold at Tk. 74-78 a kg in the capital and Chittagong yesterday, while the local variety was sold for Tk. 90-120. Onion importers had initially blamed the price hike on the poor production in India due to floods. However, the price of onion has recently fallen in India, but there has been no drop in the price in the local market. In India, onions are now being sold for Tk. 30-35 a kg, say newspaper reports. According to the Bangladesh Trading Corporation (TCB), the price of onions has seen a steady rise from July in keeping with the soaring price in India.

The price of imported onions, which were initially sold for Tk. 20-25 per kg, rose to Tk. 40-45. The price in the local market also increased.

The price of onions reached Tk. 120-130 a kg in November.

On November 23, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) of the Indian government fixed the per metric tonne price at USD 850.

Even though the price had dropped to some extent in the second week of December, onions are still being sold at Tk. 74–Tk. 78 in the city markets.

“Although the price of onions came down to some extent in the last week, imported Indian onions were sold for Tk. 50-55 at the Chittagong Khatungonj wholesale market yesterday,” said Hazi Mohammad Idris, secretary of the Khatungonj Hamidullah Market Businessmen’s Welfare Samiti.

“As supplies from India are yet to increase, the price of onion in the local market has not gone down. At the same time, the local new produce has not come to the market fully and that is why the price keeps rising,” he added.

Md Mokades Hossain, a wholesaler at Karwan Bazar in the capital, told The Independent: “We’ve sold imported Indian onions at Tk. 65 per kg on Saturday, while the local new produce was sold at Tk. 80 per kg and the local old stocks were sold at Tk. 110 per kg.”

Taposh Pal, a retailer at Oxgen Bazar in Chittagong, said: “We’re selling imported India onions at Tk. 72-75, while Egyptian onions are being sold for Tk. 76. In Chittagong, locally produced onions have not reached the market yet.”

According to sources in the commerce ministry, the demand for onion in the country is 22 lakh tonnes against the annual production of 17 to 18 lakh tonnes.

The letter of credit (LC) for per tonne of onion was USD 271 in September last year, while it rose to USD 341 in October, according to the foreign exchange policy department of Bangladesh Bank (BB). Last year, the price of per tonne of onion was USD 112.

The commerce ministry has 14 teams continuously monitoring the situation across the city so that no one can take undue advantage of the price hike.

A total of 3,060 LCs were opened between January and October last year for importing around eight lakh tonnes of onions, but the LC

settlement during this period was 8.06 lakh tonnes, according to BB sources. The price of onions has soared to Tk. 85-90 per kg in the city markets, while imported onions are being sold for Tk. 70-75. The price  had skyrocketed after India raised minimum export prices to USD 700 (Tk. 54,460) per tonne from USD 425 (Tk. 33,065) in August 2015.

However, commerce ministry officials said they are trying to bring down the price by importing from different sources.