POST TIME: 15 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 November, 2019 01:27:14 AM
Onion price hits Tk 220 per kg
Enough onions but hoarding is on: Hasina

Onion price hits Tk 220 per kg

The price of onions hit a record high yesterday with the rate per kg soaring to Tk. 200–220 at kitchen markets across the capital and in Chattogram. Customers said that onion prices had never before crossed Tk. 200 per kg. Locally-grown onions had been selling for Tk. 160–170 per kg just a day ago.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said there is enough stock of onions but those are not being released to the market. “It seems there’s stock of onions in the country and these are being rotten in many places. But onions are not being released to the market,” she said while delivering her valedictory speech of the 5th session of the 11th parliament.

The Prime Minister said some 50,000 tonnes of onion, which will arrive here soon from Egypt, will be sold through the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB). “LC (Letter of Credit) has already been opened for importing 50,000 tonnes of onion from Egypt. These will arrive within a few days,” she said. The Independent noted the price hike of Tk. 40-60 on visiting major retail and wholesale kitchen markets in the capital’s Karwan Bazar, New Market, and Shukrabad areas. Common people are finding it tough to bear the rising cost of the essential kitchen ingredient.

Hemayetul Islam, who works at an advertising agency, usually does his grocery shopping at New Market. He said he visited the Karwan Bazar wholesale market to purchase onions at a lower price. To his surprise, the prices there were as high as at New Market.

“The price is getting out of control. I ended up buying 1 kg of onions, even though I usually buy 5 kg to meet my large family’s requirement,” he said.

Restaurateurs have also reduced their use of onions in their dishes, which is affecting the taste.

Abdullah Yusuf, manager of the Sunami restaurant at Jhigatola, admitted that since the prices of food items cannot be increased all of a sudden, the restaurant is rationing its onion usage. “Because of this, the taste of our food is compromised. Some customers have complained that they are not getting the same flavour in our food,” he said.

Local traders in the kitchen market blamed the price hike on wholesalers. Anisur Rahman, a trader at Karwan Bazar, said that onions imported from Egypt are being sold for Tk. 180 per kg, while good-quality onions from Myanmar are going for Tk. 220 per kg.

“Our hands are tied. We cannot sell onions for less than our buying rate from the wholesaler,” he added.

In New Market, the price of local onions increased by Tk. 40 to Tk. 50 per kg within a day and were selling for Tk. 210 to Tk. 220 per kg. On the other hand, imported onions were selling in the range of Tk. 170 to Tk. 190 per kg.

Abdul Alim, a trader at New Market, said that the supply of onions was a fourth of the usual amount. “We were told that the unloading of imported onions at Chattogram port was suspended for a few days due to Cyclone Bulbul. That’s why the supply is low here in the market,” he explained.

Meanwhile, some wholesalers at Khatunganj in Chattogram said they had stopped stocking onions as the mobile court of the Chattogram DC office fined them hefty amounts for selling onions at what they termed as “market rates”.

Bolai Kumar Poddar, proprietor of the Grameen Banijjaloy in Khatunganj which stocks onions for wholesale, said he was fined Tk. 50,000 on October 6 for selling onions imported from Myanmar at Tk. 100 per kg. “I had no option as I bought onions from importers at the border at this rate. I only make Tk. 15 per palla (five kilos). But the mobile court did not listen to my plea and levied the fine,” he added.

“I have now stopped stocking onions. There is no point in incurring fines on the goods I sell,” he noted.

Golam Rahman, president of the Consumers' Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said that he did not see an immediate remedy to the problem. “The trouble started when India stopped exporting onions, as we are used to getting at least a third of our onion supply from the neighbouring nation. The government thought it could resolve the problem by roping in a few large businessmen to import onions from other countries, but that clearly did not happen,” he added.