POST TIME: 14 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Onion record pricey
Local variety hits Tk 170 per kg
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

Onion record pricey

Onion prices in kitchen markets of the capital have hit a record high this year despite governmental measures to keep them down. Local onions are selling for Tk. 170 per kg and the imported variety for Tk. 130 in the city’s kitchen markets. In September, both varieties had sold at Tk. 50.

A visit to the markets at Karwan Bazar, Mirpur-2, Mirpur-11, and Farm Gate revealed that the majority of outlets had only small stocks of Indian onions, while others had no stocks. Price hikes of Tk. 30–40 were noted in retail markets in Bogra, Benapole, and Hilli.

Speaking with The Independent, Mozammel, an onion vendor at Karwan Bazar, said that a palla (5 kg) of onions was selling for Tk. 850, with the Egyptian variety fetching Tk. 600 per palla. Buyers complained that traders had increased the prices of local and imported onions to draw bigger profits. They said these unscrupulous traders were taking advantage of lax monitoring by the government. Data from the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) revealed that the current onion price is 346 per cent higher than that a year ago.

Onion prices witnessed a 30–35 per cent hike within a week and 95 per cent within a month, TCB figures showed. Although the prices of Indian and local onions had jumped to Tk. 120 and Tk. 140 per kg in 2013 and 2017, respectively, the rates went down after a day or two.

In mid-September, India announced a ban on onion exports with immediate effect after extended monsoon rains delayed harvests and supply dried up. Following the ban, onion traders increased the prices of all varieties of onions.

Although onions have been imported from Egypt, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Turkey, traders at the wholesale markets said the quantity was much lower than from India. The traders also said that onion prices would not drop to affordable levels immediately, as no suitable alternatives to India had been found so far.

The traders explained that the domestic demand is for 35 lakh tonnes of onions annually.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, local farmers produced only 23 lakh tonnes in FY2018–19. The country produces about 18 lakh tonnes of onions annually, as per data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). In addition, eight to 10 lakh tonnes are imported every year, mostly from India.

The TCB has continued selling local onions at Tk. 45 per kg from 35 locations in the city. Vendors at the retail markets alleged that though there were enough onion stocks in the wholesale markets, a section of unscrupulous importers were taking advantage of the situation and citing a supply shortage.

To control onion prices in the retail markets, the government has already started clamping down on the stockpiling of onions in wholesale markets across the country, including in Khatunganj in Chattogram and Shyampur in Dhaka.