POST TIME: 15 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
The galloping onion price

The galloping onion price

The onion price in the kitchen market has hit a record high this year despite governmental measures to keep it down. Local onions were selling for Tk. 170 per kg and the imported variety for Tk. 130 in the city’s kitchen markets Wednesday. The following day, i.e. yesterday, it reached to Tk 200. But even in September, both varieties had sold at Tk. 50.

There are allegations from buyers that onion prices could not be contained due to lack of proper monitoring of the wholesale market. 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 in Bangladesh increased the price of all varieties of onions.

The domestic demand of onion is for 35 lakh tonnes annually. Local farmers produced only 23 lakh tonnes in FY2018–19. The country produces about 18 lakh tonnes of onion annually. In addition, eight to 10 lakh tonnes are imported every year, mostly from India. Buyers are not free from apprehension that the onion price may go up further if the government fails to check the market. The sudden high price of onion has left an adverse impact on the purchasing capacity of buyers of fixed income group. Every family needs onion for daily consumption. If prices of the same go up they put strain on the family budget. How many families can afford the extra money?

It is expected that if new onion is harvested the price will come down to a tolerable level. But the government must brace for future and should not rely on the import of onion solely from India. Onion should be imported from other countries as well. There should be sufficient stock of onion so that no crisis of the same surfaces. The government should expedite import of onion. The relevant authorities should see whether an artificial crisis of onion has been created by traders for reaping the benefits.  

It is imperative for the relevant government officials and business community leaders to step up its monitoring at all stages of the supply chain. The situation also calls for punitive measures against hoarders for freeing buyers from the evil machination. Assessing the supply and demand position in the kitchen market is also necessary.